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Life inside a Shanghai detention centre: Former detainee offers insight to Crown staff

Updated Mon at 8:46pm

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Peter Humphrey’s wife was having coffee in their Shanghai apartment late one night in August 2013, and he was in the ensuite bathroom, when he heard a loud hammering on the bedroom door.

Key points:

  • 14 Crown Resorts’ staff were detained in China in October
  • Peter Humphrey faced traumatic interrogations in Chinese detention for weeks
  • Mr Humphrey says detained staff were in poor psychological condition

He thought his wife, Yu Yingzeng, was joking when she called out: “Open, it’s the police.”

Then the bedroom door flew off its hinges and hit him. Suddenly in the adjoining bedroom there were men with cameras and spotlights, holding up a document.

Mr Humphrey’s wife was taken to one room, he to another. It was the last time he would see his wife for two years.

As a British national who has spent time in a Chinese detention centre and then jail, Mr Humphrey has a rare insight into what the 14 Crown Resorts’ staff detained in China last October are going through.

Fifteen staff, including three Australians, were detained under suspicion of “gambling crimes”. One has been released on bail.

Gambling and the promotion of gambling is illegal in mainland China. Foreign casinos in the past understood they could promote their luxury resorts, which are attached to the casinos.

In Monday night’s Four Corners, Crown Confidential, Mr Humphrey detailed his experience and his plunge into despair during his two years behind bars. He also offered advice to the families on what to expect.

As corporate investigators, he and his wife had been hired by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to investigate an employee.

But they soon found themselves swept up in a major corruption investigation of GSK by the Chinese authorities, which they themselves were not involved with in any way.

The employee was a whistleblower and Mr Humphrey and his wife were charged with buying and selling personal information.

They were convicted in a Shanghai court in 2014. In all, they spent two years in detention and prison.

Interrogation and confession

Mr Humphrey graphically described his experience of interrogation in the detention centre to Four Corners.

“It was an absolutely traumatic experience and I’m sad to say that these Australians and Chinese who were working for Crown casinos will have most certainly gone through that kind of experience,” he said.

“Many of them would have been thrown into a cell like that in the middle of the night just like I was.

“They always do this in the middle of the night because it maximises the sort of crushing feeling that this prisoner now has … so that when they start getting interrogated again the following day, they’re in a state of breakdown already.”

After being detained and checked into the centre, Mr Humphrey was taken to a cell. By then it was 3:00am or later.

“What I saw was iron bars at each end of the room and a sea of pink on this wooden floor and the pink was quilts — very cheap quality Chinese quilts — and then heads started sticking out from under these quilts,” he recalls.

“I was in a state of shock at that moment in time and I was in a state of shock for many weeks.”

Mr Humphrey also detailed what the Crown workers would likely face.

“They’ll be led out of their cell, put in handcuffs, they’re forced to squat [in front of officers] when they exit the cell,” he said.

“They’ll be led down a corridor and across a rusty sort of iron bridge which connects two wings of the building into the interrogation block, and in that block are the interrogation cells.”

A typical interrogation cell has a small rostrum at one side of the room and a metal cage made of steel in the middle, Mr Humphrey said.

“Inside the cage is an iron chair with a bar that locks across your lap,” he said.

“There’ll be two or three policemen, PSB [public security bureau] men, up on that rostrum — one of them will be typing on a laptop, another may be receiving guidance and instructions through an earpiece from someone who you never see.

“So they’ll be questioned in that style: locked in a cage, guys up on the rostrum, no lawyer present.”

Mr Humphrey said while there was a right to an independent lawyer later in the process, under Chinese law, he was interrogated for several weeks before he got a chance to see a lawyer.

He claims he was misled into giving an interview which was distorted and used at his trial as a confession.

Support on the inside

Mr Humphrey has advice for the family of Jason O’Connor, the head of Crown’s VIP marketing, who is the most senior of the detainees.

“I understand that his family must be worried like hell and unfortunately, you know, I can’t say anything good about what Jason’s psychological condition might be like right now,” he said.

“I would say to the family first of all, make sure you know his needs in terms of clothing and so on, money sent into his prison account so that he can buy his necessities from the prison shopping system.

“Reading material. As he’s a foreign citizen the Consul can bring reading materials to him and that’s very important so bring him books, bring him newspapers, bring him magazines and so on.

“Send him some photographs of the family. Let him see how the family are as well.”

Most of the gambling experts Four Corners interviewed for the program were not optimistic about the Crown staff being released in the near future.

Apart from the one Chinese staff member, Jiang Liang, who was released on bail, 14 are still in detention. The Australian Government confirmed they had been formally arrested in November. If they are not released, the next step will be formal charges.

China has a very high conviction rate. Mr Humphrey is deeply pessimistic about the fate of the Crown staff.

“When people are arrested in China, 99.9 per cent of these cases nobody gets out, nobody gets out. They will be charged, they will be convicted,” he told the program.

You can watch Crown Confidential, the full report on the arrests and the crisis that followed, on the Four Corners website and on ABC iview.


Dear Mr Witty.

I have set up this blog in order to bring the issue of Seroxat to your attention. I was prescribed Seroxat in 1998 when I was just emerging into my 20’s. I was never warned of the side effects of this drug at the time. After 3 and a half years of hell on it, I suffered a long withdrawal which resulted in a viral infection, pneumonia, hellish anxiety and the absolute annihilation of my physical, mental and emotional being. The agony I suffered because of your drug is beyond words. It is an experience which deeply scarred my psyche and one which no human being should be subjected to. Your company, GSK, has added a litany of side effects since 1998, and  with every PIL update it has also increased the likelihood of these side effects. It seems to me that either GSK originally downplayed the risks of Seroxat, doctored the clinical trial results or it was inadequately tested before obtaining a license.

Panorama made 4 documentaries about the dangers of Seroxat, it is one of the most controversial drugs of the past 20 years. I would like to know when you are going to address the problems with Seroxat? There are many thousands of people still deeply affected because of Seroxat. Many people are still being prescribed a drug which causes suicide, dependence, severe withdrawal, birth defects and immeasurable physical and psychological damage. I think these people deserve an apology from either you or GSK. You state in the press how you want to change the image of GSK and the pharmaceutical industry, yet surely to begin with, you should address and atone the past wrongs of GSK. You say that the industry is often perceived to be ‘detached from society’. I do hope that you have a conscience and that you can try to understand the damage that Seroxat has caused many many people. This drug needs to be pulled, an acknowledgement of the damage it causes needs to be issued by GSK and those harmed should be listened to. If you really mean what you say, then you would make this a reality. Just to give you an example of the damage that your corporation’s drug has caused. Please read the following links.

The first one is 1,400 emails correlated by BBC Panorama some years ago, they detail the horrific effects of Seroxat

The second is an online petition signed by over 10,000 people complaining about the agonizing side effects of Seroxat.

How many people does it take to damage before you will address the problems of Seroxat Mr Witty?

You can read the rest of the links at your leisure (or just google ‘Seroxat ‘and you’ll be astounded).

Thanks ..  

Andrew Witty - GSK’s Next CEO

    • The purpose of this blog is a call of conscience and compassion to Andrew Witty, the next CEO of GSK.

Andrew Witty will succeed JP Garnier to become the next CEO of GlaxoSmithKline in May 2008.

We all recognise the need for pharmaceutical drugs, and some can be life savers, but surely when a pharmaceutical company appears to harm more patients than it claims to help, then something must be done to rectify and address this? We also recognise the place of the pharmaceutical industry too, but has it become a greed fueled machine run amok with no regard for the efficacy or safety of new drugs? Is the safety and effectiveness of a medication paramount? Or does a loyalty to insatiable profits affect this?

    Who is willing to tackle these issues? Where does the buck stop? And where does honesty, transparency and good ethics begin?

 Many hundreds of thousands of people have been adversely affected by GSK drugs, such as Avandia and Seroxat. GSK have had thousands of lawsuits over the years regarding these particular drugs and others in the past , drugs such as Selacryn, Lotronex and Myodil. Will the new GSK CEO address the issue of Seroxat (Paxil) Birth Defects, Suicide, Aggression, Addiction and Withdrawal? Or Avandia Causing Heart Attacks? Maybe Andrew Witty will be a different CEO than his predecessor? Maybe he will put patients before profit?

One thing is for sure, GlaxoSmithKline definately needs a radical change of its ethical policies. Is Andrew Witty the man for the job?

Does he see patients as just “consumers”? Or does he see them as “human beings”? Is he blinded by profit margins or is he enlightened enough to care about the well being of the patients who suffer because of GSK drugs? Patients such as those who were not warned about the risks of Paxil and Avandia, Patients who have lost their lives or lost members of their families due to the deliberate suppression of negative data to protect GSK profits. As a CEO, is it his job to care? Maybe? Maybe not?Is he a man with human integrity and conscience? Or just another corporate cog in the big pharma machine? Does he care about giving patients the truth about GSK drugs? What’s more important to Andrew Witty? Keeping the shareholders happy or keeping patients well?

    What does “Corporate Responsibility” mean to Andrew Witty? Does it mean Ethics? Does it mean human rights? Dignity? Or is it just another meaningless corporate catchphrase?

Does Andrew Witty genuinely want to help people to “Do More , Live Longer and Feel Better”? or is this just another GSK marketing mantra , lacking any real significance or value when applied to reality? The answers remain to be seen, for now, we have only the questions.As is obvious from the links on the blog roll, GSK’s Littany of unethical corporate behaviour surely needs to be addressed, Let’s hope Mr Witty will do so.

(For links to information and research about the dangers of GSK drugs and articles relating to same, check out the blog roll).

REAL GLOBAL NEWS : GSK Witty ( Profile)President, Pharmaceuticals Europe, GlaxoSmithKlineAndrew Witty was named President, Pharmaceuticals Europe for GlaxoSmithKline in January 2003. He is a member of the Corporate Executive Team. Previously, he held the role of Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific, Pharmaceuticals International since January 2001 where he was responsible for the company’s operations in Asia Pacific, based in Singapore.Andrew joined Glaxo UK in 1985. He held various positions in the UK, including Director of Pharmacy & Distribution in Glaxo Pharmaceuticals UK, Director of Business Development for Biocompatibles Limited and International Product Manager for Glaxo Holdings plc. He later served as Managing Director, Glaxo South Africa and subsequent promotion to Area Director for South and East Africa. More recently, he was Vice President and General Manager, Marketing for Glaxo Wellcome Inc, the company’s US subsidiary, with responsibility for strategy development, marketing execution and new product positioning.Andrew served as Economic Adviser to the Governor of Guangzhou, China 2000 to 2002 as a Board Member of the Singapore Economic Development Board, a Member of the Economic Development Board Audit Committee as well as a Board Member of the Singapore Land Authority Board under the Ministry of Law, during 2002 and 2003. Andrew is a member of the Working Group of Pharma Futures and sits on the Imperial College Commercialisation Advisory Board. Andrew has a BA Joint Honours, Economics from Nottingham University in the UK._______________________PAXIL / SEROXAT (BIRTH DEFECTS) fight to step into Garnier’s shoesBy Katherine Griffiths, City CorrespondentLast Updated: 11:54pm BST 28/04/2007When Glaxo Wellcome first tried to get together with SmithKline Beecham in 1998, there was a combustible mix of egos that scuppered the deal and wiped £20bn off their combined market values.The pharmaceuticals giant did finally merge in 2000 when a deal was struck to make Jean-Pierre Garnier, then number two at SmithKline, boss of the new company.Jean-Pierre Garnier is stepping down as chief executiveSeven years on, GlaxoSmithKline must again make a decision about its leadership because Mr Garnier has announced he will step down as chief executive in May next year, at the age of 60, to pursue other projects.Little loved by the City at first, Mr Garnier has gained in popularity among investors and the media. Even though GSK’s share price has underwhelmed, analysts believe he has created a global company with a strong internal ethic.Mr Garnier is also increasingly credited with taking a brave decision to break up GSK’s mighty research and development operation into small groups to encourage a more entrepreneurial spirit. As a result, GSK has one of the most robust drugs pipelines in the pharmaceuticals sector.One person close to the company said: “JP was seen as a bit of a rogue but there has been a transformation. He has incredibly big shoes to fill.”Unlike in 2000, when the leadership of GSK was decided against the stormy backdrop of a mega merger involving high-profile personalities such as Sir Richard Sykes at Glaxo, Jan Leschly at SmithKline and Mr Garnier himself, the next chief executive will be appointed in calmer water.The company has told shareholders it has looked externally but believes three of its senior managers are the strongest candidates. They are David Stout, president of pharmaceuticals globally, Chris Viehbacher, head of pharmaceuticals in the US, and Andrew Witty, who has the same role in Europe.To assess their potential, the three were given special projects dealing with strategic issues facing GSK. Their performance will be assessed by the board, led by chairman Sir Christopher Gent and Mr Garnier.Mr Stout has been asked to come up with proposals to rethink GSK’s management of its supply chain. Mr Viehbacher must grapple with the industry’s public standing and Mr Witty must look at marketing given the growing sensitivity about costs and direct-to-consumer advertising.The tasks are on top of their day jobs, running major parts of GSK.GlaxoSmithKline has set three of its division chiefs against each other. They are, from left, Andrew Witty, David Stout and Chris ViehbacherAt 52, Mr Stout is the oldest of the candidates and has worked with Mr Garnier the longest. Both came from the SmithKline side of the business.Before taking on his job overseeing all of the pharmaceuticals business – which includes GSK’s large vaccines division – Mr Stout ran GSK’s business in his native US.Andy Smith, who manages the International Biotechnology Trust, an investment fund, said Mr Stout’s experience in the “all-important” US market will be a strong advantage as it accounts for about 50pc of GSK’s sales and is the largest drugs market in the world.AstraZeneca’s decision to appoint David Brennan, its former US head whose background is in marketing rather than scientific research, to replace Sir Tom McKillop, may be the pattern GSK will follow, Mr Smith said. But some believe Mr Stout lacks the dynamism of Mr Viehbacher, age 47, and Mr Witty, 42.Mr Viehbacher has the advantage of having a lot of direct access to Mr Garnier because he works in GSK’s US headquarters in Philadelphia, where Mr Garnier bases himself.Mike Ward, an analyst at Nomura Code, said: “GSK holds a round table about twice a year on its US business. Viehbacher is very polished and gives the impression he is in command of his troops.”Some analysts believe Mr Viehbacher’s present job and his previous experience running GSK’s European arm makes him a well-rounded candidate. His mixed Canadian-German heritage also fits GSK’s international culture.One drawback is that GSK may not want to appoint another US-based chief executive, after the palpable reluctance of Mr Garnier – who is French but has mainly lived in America – to come to the UK.The issue contributed to an early froideur between the company and the City. Mr Viehbacher could allay fears of a repeat of the problem by simply moving to Britain.Despite being the youngest candidate, Mr Witty has run GSK’s Asian business and clocked up experience in the US before taking over Europe in 2003. One industry insider said: “Witty is very dynamic and even a bit impetuous. But he has a lot of talent and he would be a courageous appointment.”All three are understood to be keen to build their profile outside GSK, in order to step out of MR Garnier’s shadow. Internally, they have apparently been told being too political would be strongly frowned upon. Insiders say this is not a problem because their working relationship – at least at the moment – is strong.With the bruising battle over the BP leadership fresh in the mind, GSK is running a low-profile selection. Mr Garnier is thought to want an announcement shortly before he retires, to avoid imitating the political environment in the UK and US where leaders are seen as lame ducks.While GSK can congratulate itself on nurturing such strong home-grown talent, a major problem will be how to persuade the two disappointed candidates to stay.AVANDIA , HEART ATTACKS’s-witty-dark-horse-or-man-motivator/Glaxo’s Witty: dark horse or man-motivator?The anonymous comments are flowing in thick and fast on Andrew Witty – Glaxo’s new young CEO. “He’s a details guy, but he lets his teams run rather than tightly controlling them,” said one person who knows him. “He’s a great man-motivator, quite passionate, dynamic and visionary. He takes people with him.” Another acquaintance argued: “He’s passionate about healthcare, getting things right for patients and unlocking value.” Not all praise though: “Some will say he’s a bit too polished and perceived as a bit of a dark horse.”______________For Glaxo’s New Chief,Tough Tasks AwaitBy JEANNE WHALEN and JOANN S. LUBLINOctober 9, 2007; Page A3,,SB119182586141252051-OwyJXz4Wk4lEv9e8I_PsWm2ZWCM_20081008.html?mod=rss_Whos_NewsFor Glaxo’s New Chief,Tough Tasks AwaitBy JEANNE WHALEN and JOANN S. LUBLINOctober 9, 2007; Page A3GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s choice of Andrew Witty as chief executive ends a drawn-out internal race but begins a process of big decisions at the company whose share price continues to lag behind its peers.Glaxo’s board chose Mr. Witty, the 43-year-old head of its European business, after a two-year horse race among three internal candidates. The company had said it would announce its decision by January, but it moved earlier because employees “were getting restless,” according to a person familiar with the matter. Some analysts had expressed concern that the race was distracting management.GSK SPIN DOCTOR ALASTAIR BENBOWMORE COVERAGEWitty• An Unusual Race to Become Glaxo’s Next CEO09/24/07• Health Blog: GlaxoSmithKline Chief on Defensive09/10/07• Glaxo’s Garnier Is Taking the Heat07/09/07Among the strategic decisions facing Mr. Witty when he succeeds Jean-Pierre Garnier in May: whether to keep Glaxo’s unit that sells nonprescription drugs, toothpaste and drinks, which some investors have said lowers the company’s profit and stock price. He also needs to restore confidence in one of Glaxo’s key drugs — the diabetes treatment Avandia — after safety concerns.And he must shore up the company’s pipeline of new drugs under development to keep increasing sales. Glaxo, whose £23.2 billion ($47.38 billion) in annual sales make it the second-largest drug company by revenue, behind Pfizer Inc., has taken steps to restructure its research-and-development labs.The company’s shares have lagged behind those of its European peers, reflecting investor concern that its pipeline isn’t strong enough. Glaxo shares have suffered further since May, when a study in the New England Journal of Medicine tied Avandia to a risk of heart attacks.”His first three to five years, the pipeline will reflect the actions and decisions of his predecessor, so in some sense he has to play an inherited hand,” said John

Sherman, a health-care analyst at T. Rowe Price & Associates in London, which holds 4.5 million shares in Glaxo. “I’m a bit skeptical about an individual’s ability to change the course of a drug company in the near term, unless they do something completely radical and tear up the playbook.”Mr. Witty and other Glaxo officials declined to comment on the appointment, which was announced yesterday. In a brief statement, Glaxo Chairman Sir Christopher Gent said the board “is confident that Andrew will build on J.P.’s considerable achievements.” Sir Christopher will remain chairman, and Dr. Garnier, who reaches Glaxo’s mandatory retirement age of 60 this month, will retire from the board in May.The drug industry is facing tough times. Tight health-care budgets are forcing companies to fight to justify the prices they charge. In addition, companies are having a hard time getting the Food and Drug Administration to approve new drugs for sale after several high-profile safety scandals. And competition from cheaper generic drugs is becoming fiercer. With the selection of Mr. Witty, Glaxo becomes the latest of several big drug makers to pick a relatively young new leader.Mr. Witty’s experience negotiating with European health-care systems, which have long pinched every penny, could help Glaxo take a fresh approach toward increasingly stingy health-care payers in the U.S. Mr. Witty also reorganized the marketing team in Europe, assigning executives by disease area instead of geography.In a research note yesterday, Citibank Inc. said Mr. Witty increased Glaxo’s volume of drug sales in Europe even as drug prices came under pressure. This “will be valuable for guiding the U.S. business as it faces not dissimilar challenges,” Citibank said.Before his current post in Europe, Mr. Witty ran Glaxo’s business in Asia, a region the industry hopes will help fuel future sales as more-developed markets weaken. From 2000 to 2002, he served as an economic adviser to the governor of Guangzhou, China. Mr. Witty has held senior positions at Glaxo in Africa and the United Kingdom.One potential weakness is his relative lack of experience in the U.S., the world’s biggest pharmaceutical market. From 1996 to 1999, he held several marketing positions in the U.S. for Glaxo Wellcome, which later merged with SmithKline Beecham, but those were his last major U.S. assignments.Glaxo is based in Brentford, England, and Mr. Witty, a Briton, will likely continue living in London, shuttling to the U.S. often, a person familiar with the matter said. Dr. Garnier lives in Philadelphia, where the company has several large research-and-development labs.Mr. Witty was the youngest of the three chief-executive candidates. The others were David Stout, 54, president of global pharmaceutical operations, and Chris Viehbacher, 48, president of U.S. pharmaceuticals.Glaxo is concerned that the runners-up might jump ship, people familiar with the matter said. The company has offered them seats on the board of directors and is also considering raising their pay and job responsibilities, the people saidgskshareprice.gif, October 14, 2007The secret plan of Andrew Witty?A long time ago, Pharmagossip had this interesting post about investors clamoring for a GSK consumer division spin off (See Pharmalyst’s posts on the same here). The BreakingViews column (subscription required) of this past wednesday’s WSJ makes a string case for a divestiture of GSK’s consumer biz. They point out that branded consumer goods companies like P&G and Reckitt Benckiser are trading at higher multiples than GSK. New consumer brands are not easily built and so GSK’s division should fetch a good multiple should their new CEO Mr. Witty consider a spin off or sale. By BreakingView’s math, this division will earn about $1.5 billion in operating profit this year and should fetch $25 billion in a sale!!That is a huge multiple indeed and GSK will probably not miss brands such as Tums and Horlicks. Horlicks to Pharmalyst’s amusement is an improbably named “malt beverage” (no…not the kind readers in the US are thinking) that is well liked among the UKs senior set (supposedly useful in getting a good nights sleep).If GSK brass consider such an option they have to weigh whether to float the new subsidiary (lower taxes) or sell it to another buyer (taxes on capital gains will accrue). Pharmalyst thinks that there are plenty of buyers like P&G who will be willing to pay a premium to make a sale worthwhile.Posted by Pharmalyst at 3:29 AM,GSK, MHRA, THE SEROXAT SCANDALFIDDAMAN , NOT SO CORPORATE SEROXAT VIDEO DRAMATISATION OF A PAXIL/SEROXAT INDUCED SUICIDEAROPAX/SEROXAT/PAXIL WITHDRAWAL VIDEO PART 1AROPAX WITHDRAWAL VIDEO PART 2PANORAMA : SEROXAT : SECRETS OF THE DRUG TRIALSSEROXAT LIESABC NEWS : PAXIL ADDICTIONDR PETER BREGGIN : SSRI/SEROXAT SIDE EFFECTS ETC / PAXILGSK AVANDIA FDA WARNING THE TRUTH ABOUT SSRI DRUGS (Inc PAXIL)

SSRI’s /School Shootings/Suicide/Paxil/Seroxat________________   </object><object width=”425″ height=”355″><param name=”movie” value=”