July 4 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is “concerned” that its consular officers will be barred from the trial of an American citizen in China, the co-founder of a private investigation firm hired by GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s local office.
U.S. foreign service staff have been providing all appropriate assistance and have had regular visits with Yingzeng Yu, who was detained, U.S. embassy spokesman Nolan Barkhouse said by phone today.
Yu and her British husband, Peter Humphrey, founded private investigation firm ChinaWhys and were arrested in China in 2013. The firm had previously been hired by drugmaker Glaxo, which is under a bribery probe in China.
“We are concerned that consular officers will not be allowed to attend Ms. Yu’s trial in August 2014, despite the fact that under the 1982 bilateral consular convention between our two countries, consular officials are permitted to attend such trials,” the embassy spokesman said.
Consular officers have had regular visits with Yu since her detention in July 2013, with the most recent one on July 2, Barkhouse said.
ChinaWhys was hired after a sex tape involving Glaxo’s then-China chief Mark Reilly was sent to senior staff at the London-based company, The Sunday Times reported June 29. Reilly was authorized to hire Humphrey to look into who sent it, according to the newspaper.
Humphrey was imprisoned after inquiring into a smear campaign against Glaxo, the paper said. China last year began an investigation into Glaxo’s sales practices in the country, detaining some of its employees. Police in May this year handed a case to prosecutors alleging Reilly, a British national, ordered bribes to doctors. ChinaWhys’ office number appeared to be disconnected and a call to Reilly’s cellphone wasn’t answered.
Glaxo has said that it is cooperating fully in the investigation by Chinese authorities. Calls to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs weren’t answered.
Humphrey said he feels “cheated” by Glaxo, the Financial Times reported today, citing a note dictated from his prison cell. The drugmaker didn’t reveal the extent of corruption allegations when it hired him, the FT reported Humphrey as saying. Glaxo assured Humphrey that allegations made by a whistleblower were false, while the investigator later came to believe they had merit, the FT said.
Glaxo didn’t respond to Humphrey’s allegations. In a statement on its website, it said ChinaWhys was hired to investigate a security breach related to its general manager, not the corruption allegations. At the time it hired ChinaWhys, Glaxo said it “did not find sufficient evidence to substantiate the specific allegations made in the whistleblower emails.”
--With assistance from Oliver Staley in London.