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British corporate investigator Peter Humphrey has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for illegally obtaining records on Chinese citizens, while his American wife was handed a two-year jail sentence, at a court in Shanghai.
The couple ran risk consultancy ChinaWhys, whose clients included British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc, which is at the centre of a separate corruption probe.
According to a statement read out by a court official at a press conference, Humphrey will be deported, but it gave no further details on that aspect of the judgment, including on whether Yu would also be deported.
The couple has the right to appeal their sentence within 10 days, the court added.
The trial of a British man and his American wife, who are accused of illegally obtaining and selling private information on Chinese nationals, could be key to a bribery investigation against pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.
Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng ran a risk consultancy called ChinaWhys, whose clients included GSK, and their testimony is being closely watched for any comments on the British firm.
The couple's arrest last year coincided with a government investigation into the company who are accused of funneling millions of pounds through travel agencies to bribe local doctors and health officials to raise prices and boost sales.
However, GSK was not mentioned on the charge sheet against Humphrey and Yu.
Prosecutors claim the couple have obtained over 200 items of private information including phone records and real estate documents and then re-sold the data.
A British man and his wife went on trial in Shanghai today for illegally obtaining and selling private information about Chinese nationals.
The arrest of Peter William Humphrey and Yingzeng Yu last year coincided with a Chinese bribery investigation into pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
The couple were investigators who operated a small firm in China that helped corporate clients screen potential partners and employees and watch for embezzlement.
Glaxo said it hired Yu and Humphrey to investigate a security breach but prosecutors have not said whether the two cases are linked.
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The son of a British investigator on trial in China has blamed British drugs company GlaxoSmithKline for misleading his parents.