GSK-linked private eye released early from Chinese prison

Peter Humphrey

Last summer, Peter Humphrey--a private eye linked to GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) 2013 bribery scandal--was sentenced to 2.5 years in Chinese prison. But now, after serving about two years, he's been released.

A court has reduced Humphrey's sentence by 7 months on health grounds, and he's now in a Shanghai hospital having cancer-related tests, the Financial Times reports. Once released from the hospital, he'll be deported, a source told the paper. His wife--who, with Humphrey, formed a corporate investigator team that helped GSK track down the source of a clandestinely filmed sex tape involving the company's China head--is due for release on July 11 and will be allowed to stay in China.

The two became a prime example of the risks foreigners face while doing business in China when they were first detained in 2013. During last year's not-fully-public trial, prosecutors accused the duo of breaching local laws around obtaining and selling personal information--something Humphrey said he didn't know he was doing.

"From the face of things the facts aren't wrong, but to the allegations, I don't understand China's laws," Humphrey said at the time, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Glaxo, too, became a poster child for China's anti-corruption campaign, launched by the government to warn multinational companies not to engage in the underhanded business practices some have said are endemic in the country. After word first broke that the British drugmaker had funneled $489 million in bribes to Chinese healthcare professionals, many of GSK's peers also came under the lens, sending shockwaves through the industry and hurting sales across the board.

Since then, the pharma giant has shelled out £300 million to absolve its sins, and its business there has begun to bounce back from the 60%-plus sales crash it suffered in 2013's Q3. But it has disclosed internal corruption investigations in other countries around the globe, including Iraq, Lebanon and Poland. And last September, Reuters reported that GSK had been looking into possible bribery in its consumer healthcare unit since 2012.

- read the FT story

Special Report: Top 10 drugmakers in emerging markets - GSK

Read more on