A British consultant, Peter Humphrey and his American wife Yu Yingzeng, have been arrested in Shanghai,according to police. Chinese media allege that the couple broke the law on at least 10 occasions.
Humphrey is the founder of a company which, according to its website, supplies investigation services to multinationals. His wife is general manager of the company.
Images have been released of Mr Humphrey admitting that he had broken the law, apologising to the Chinese government and asking for leniency.
According to state media, the couple sold personal information belonging to clients including addresses, details of family members and car and home ownership.
British pharmaceutical firm, GlaxoSmithKline is thought to be among Humphrey’s clients, although this has not been mentioned in the Chinese media.
The company was accused last month of being involved in attempts to bribe doctors and officials. The company says it is co-operating with the authorities.