Chinese prosecutors have indicted a foreign couple for the illegal collection of personal information by their private firm on behalf of drugmaker GalxoSmithKline last year. This is the first indictment announced by Chinese prosecutors of foreigners conducting an illegal investigation.
The couple, a 58 year old U.K. man and a 61 year old U.S. citizen, were indicted for illegally tracking personal information that had been obtained through hidden photography and “infiltration.” The data that was collected includes household registrations, details about real estate, vehicles and family backgrounds, and records of travelers who entered and left China.
The company has also been the subject of investigation and allegations of illegal activity in the United States.
GlaxoSmithKline recently paid $105 million to settle with 44 states and the District of Columbia over its illegal marketing of an asthma drug and two antidepressants. The company also paid $22 million to West Virginia over illegal promotion of a diabetes medicine and a failure to warn about the potentially harmful side effects of the drug. In 2012, GSK pled guilty to criminal charges in one of the largest health-care fraud cases in U.S. history.
China launched an investigation last year into GlaxoSmithKline’s sales practices in the country, which has led to the detainment of several employees. The company allegedly bribed doctors in order to boost sales and violated tax laws. GSK said they are cooperating with Chinese officials but have not released information about their legal representation for either investigation.
The U.K. man says he was hired by GSK’s China manager in April 2013 to find out who leaked allegations of bribery. GSK released a statement saying the couple’s investigation company, ChinaWhys, was hired to investigate a breach of privacy and security involving one of its top managers, not to investigate “the substance of the allegations of misconduct made by the whistleblower.”