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American detained in China is wife of British risk consultant: sources

A Chinese national flag is seen in front of a GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai, July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Aly Song
A Chinese national flag is seen in front of a GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai, July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) - A U.S. citizen held in China amid an investigation into the country's pharmaceutical industry is the wife and business partner of a detained British national, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

The sources said Yu Yingzeng, general manager at the ChinaWhys business risk advisory firm, and her husband Peter Humphrey, the company's managing director, were detained by Chinese authorities in Shanghai on July 10.

It is unclear if the detention of the couple is directly related to a Chinese police investigation into bribery allegations against British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.

ChinaWhys has done work with drugs companies, including GSK, separate sources familiar with the matter have said.

It was not clear if either Yu or Humphrey had any legal representation.

Britain's largest drug maker has been accused by China of funneling up to 3 billion yuan ($489 million) to travel agencies to facilitate bribes to doctors and officials.

GSK has called the accusations shameful and said some of its senior Chinese executives appeared to have broken the law.

The U.S. embassy in Beijing said on Tuesday that a U.S. citizen had been detained, and that it was providing consular assistance but declined to give further details, including the individual's name. Britain's Foreign Office said over the weekend a British man had been detained in Shanghai on July 10. Sources identified him as Humphrey.

Yu is a founder at ChinaWhys, which offers "discreet risk mitigation solutions, internal process audits, due diligence and commercial investigation services", according to the firm's website.

Humphrey, also a founder of ChinaWhys, worked as a journalist for Reuters in the 1980s and 90s. The ChinaWhys website says he has been a risk management specialist and corporate detective for the past 14 years.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Kazunori Takada and Dean Yates)

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