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Briton Arrested In China For 'Stealing' Personal Information Apologises: State Media

posted 27 Aug 2013, 03:59 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 27 Aug 2013, 03:59 ]

British national arrested by Chinese police on allegations of stealing personal information admits to charges, apologises, state media reports.

SHANGHAICHINA (RECENT) (CCTV) -  A British man arrested by Chinese police over alleged theft of personal information admitted to the charges and apologised in footage broadcast byChina's state-run broadcaster CCTV on Tuesday (August 27).

Peter Humphrey and his wife, U.S. national Yu Yingzeng, were detained inShanghai on July 10 as police probed bribery allegations against drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

It was not immediately clear if Humphrey's arrest was directly related to the investigation of GSK, which has been accused by China of funnelling up to 3 billion yuan (312 million pounds) to travel agencies to facilitate bribes to doctors and officials.

In China, an arrest typically means police believe they have enough evidence for a case to be brought to trial. Detentions can last for weeks and end in release without charges being filed.

"Sometimes the personal information we collected was done through illegal means. I regret this greatly, and I want to apologise to the Chinese government," said Humphrey in an interview shot by CCTV, who blurred his face in their broadcast.

Humphrey and Yu co-founded ChinaWhys ("Zhonghui" in Mandarin), a business risk advisory firm that has done work with drugs companies, including GSK, separate sources familiar with the matter said.

A source close to the family said they had not yet been told which charges would be laid against Humphrey, or when, but the statement said lawyers told the family the couple had been detained last month because they broke a law related to buying private information.

Lu Wei, a leading member of the investigation team, said that Humphrey's company did not have actual employees or offices.

"The Zhonghui Company was registered in Hong Kong in 2003, but the company neither had an actual place for an office nor actually hired employees. You can say it was a company in name only," he said.

China has taken a tough stance on corruption and high prices in the pharmaceutical industry as it unrolls wider healthcare access and faces an estimated $1 trillion (637 billion pounds) healthcare bill by 2020.