News / Asia

    Chinese Court Sentences Foreign Investigators to Prison

    A combination photo shows British corporate investigators Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng as they leave court in a police car in Shanghai Aug. 8, 2014.
    A combination photo shows British corporate investigators Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng as they leave court in a police car in Shanghai Aug. 8, 2014.

    A Shanghai court has sentenced two foreign risk consultants to prison on charges of illegally obtaining personal information about Chinese citizens in a one-day trial that is part of a high-profile corruption probe targeting GlaxoSmithKline, the giant international pharmaceutical and health care firm.

    The Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court announced the verdict late Friday through its official microblog: Yu Yingzeng and Peter Humphrey —partners in business and marriage — were sentenced to two years and 2 ½ respectively.

    The presiding judge said Humphrey could be deported, but did not say whether the same fate awaits Yu, an American citizen born in China.

    The couple ran a risk consultancy firm called ChinaWhys, specializing in corporate fraud.

    Prosecutors accused the couple of breaking China's privacy laws, which ban the purchase and sale of personal data such as residency information, phone records and overseas travel records.

    Bought personal information

    In court, Humphrey and Yu admitted they bought personal information about Chinese citizens from three Chinese companies. But they insisted the information was used to prove fraud and embezzlement, and made up only a small part of the reports they compiled for their clients.

    “The most important part of those reports was investigation and analysis,” Humphrey said in court, according to official proceedings issued live on the microblog.

    Both defendants said they investigated mergers, did background checks on partners or potential hires, and looked into corrupt practices on behalf of their clients.

    GlaxoSmithKline probed

    Their arrests last year coincided with a corruption probe of one of the couple's newest clients, British-based GlaxoSmithKline. The company was not mentioned directly during the Humphrey-Yu trial, however.

    In his closing argument, Humphrey maintained that the couple's actions were in accord with the Chinese government's own campaign against corruption.

    “Humphrey did put up a very spirited and effective self-defense, going so far to say that his career in China is comparable to the 'graft busters,' the anti-corruption operation launched by the party and government,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the University of Hong Kong's China Studies Center.

    Lam said it was clear from the start that the couple's line of defense would not avert a guilty verdict, though they both “have been very cooperative with the authorities from the start.

    “There is also the fact that they are foreigners,” Lam added. “So even though the Chinese have insisted on the independence of the judiciary in China, they do take into consideration China's relations with other countries.”

    Humphrey and Yu have 10 days to appeal their conviction, but any reversal by the court is considered unlikely.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
    August 11, 2014 6:26 PM
    The sentencing is the most draconian part of this exercise. I think they will be released on medical grouns quietly. China has achieved its purpose by making them a show case.

    by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
    August 11, 2014 2:00 PM
    Certain business activities such as due diligence investigations can be traps for the unwary not so much that the law is unclear, its enforcement is hazardous. A doing it may be legitimate but not B. You may find out that A has a powerful background whereas B has not. Or some times, at one time it is tolerated but not at another time.

    by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
    August 08, 2014 6:50 PM
    The reason they were guilty is not because they conducted investigation. First, their investigation must have disturbed or upset certain interested parties in China who in the back stabbed them. Second, it gives a warning to any professional or investigative firms or individuals that even you have a foreign passport, or of foreign origin, in China, you are no body. You are just susceptible to criminal sanction as anybody else.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora