British supermarket giant Tesco plc (OTC: TSCDY) on Sunday said that it had suspended a Chinese supplier of Christmas cards after a secretive letter in one of the cards alleged forced labor.
What The Letter Alleged
“We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization,” a letter snuck inside one of the Christmas cards said, as reported by a British newspaper The Times.
"Use the link to contact Mr Peter Humphrey."
Humphrey is a journalist and former corporate fraud investigator, who himself spent two years at the Qingpu prison, after being sentenced for “illegally acquiring personal information” of Chinese citizens and selling it to British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK).
The letter was found by a 6-year-old girl Florence Widdicombe, whose father then contacted Humphrey on LinkedIn, The Times reported.
“I do not know the identities or nationalities of the prisoners who sneaked this note into the Tesco cards, but I have no doubt they are Qingpu prisoners who knew me before my release in June 2015“ Humphrey wrote in The Times.
According to one of the ex-prisoners contacted by Humphrey, the inmates have been packing Christmas cards and gift tags for Tesco for more than two years.
In a statement on Sunday, Tesco said that an independent audit conducted as recently as last month found no evidence of the use of prison labor by the Chinese supplier.
“We were shocked by these allegations and immediately suspended the factory where these cards are produced and launched an investigation,” Tesco said.
“We have also withdrawn these cards from sale whilst we investigate.”
Tesco’s shares closed 0.2% lower at $9.80 in the OTC market on Friday.