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Glaxo-Linked Foreign Investigators Indicted, Xinhua Says

Prosecutors in Shanghai have indicted the foreign couple behind the private investigation firm that was hired last year by drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc in China, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Peter Humphrey, a 58-year-old U.K. citizen, and Yu Yingzeng, a 61-year-old U.S. citizen, were indicted for illegally obtaining personal information on Chinese citizens, Xinhua reported, citing people it didn’t identify. Local courts will hear the case of the two investigators “soon,” Xinhua said, without specifying a date.

The couple, which registered their company ChinaWhys Co. in 2004 in Shanghai, illegally bought information or obtained it through secret photography and infiltration, Xinhua reported. The firm had previously been hired by Glaxo, which is under a bribery investigation in China.

China last year began an investigation into Glaxo’s sales practices in the country, detaining some of its employees there. Glaxo in a July 3 statement said it was cooperating with Chinese authorities.

The drugmaker on July 3 said ChinaWhys was hired last year to investigate a breach of privacy and security related to its China general manager. It today declined to comment.

The office and mobile phone numbers for ChinaWhys’ Shanghai headquarters supplied on the company’s Website appear to have been disconnected. There wasn’t any immediate response to an e-mail sent to the corporate account listed on the site.

It is the first indictment Chinese prosecutors have announced of foreigners for conducting an illegal investigation, Xinhua said.

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