Xiao Jianhua, Chinese Canadian Billionaire, on Trial in China

Xiao Jianhua, Chinese Canadian Billionaire, on Trial in China


More than five years later Mysterious disappearance From a luxury hotel in Hong Kong, a Chinese-Canadian billionaire and one-time trusted financier for China’s political elite has been sued in a case that curbed the ruling Communist Party’s first round of freewheeling capitalism. Is a manifestation of the effort to put.

Chinese authorities have not released details of the charges against financier Xiao Jianhua. The Canadian embassy in Beijing said in an emailed statement that Chinese authorities had rejected several requests from the embassy to attend Monday’s trial. The embassy added that it was providing consular services to Mr. Xiao’s family and would continue to press for consular access, but declined to provide further information on the privacy concerns of Mr. Xiao and his family. done.

There was no immediate word on how long Mr Xiao’s trial would last. Chinese courts rarely convict defendants, meaning they will almost certainly be convicted.

Mr. Xiao Case Widely viewed As part of the Chinese government’s ongoing campaign to stem the tide of debt, which has boosted the country’s economic growth in recent decades. In 2020, Chinese officials Seize nine companies.Hundreds of billions of dollars worth, linked to the group. Behind Mr. Xiao’s vast business empire is the holding company, which he built over more than two decades thanks to his high-level political connections.

Taking control of two securities firms and a futures company in 2020, China’s securities regulator accused the business of providing misleading information about its shareholders and controllers. In July 2021, regulators extended the seizure of nine companies for another year to “further promote risk management and reduce financial risks.” The Tomoro Group also had interests in state-owned industries, including banking, insurance, coal, cement, real estate and rare earth minerals.

Aside from the takeover announcements, Chinese officials have said little about Mr Xiao’s case. For years, there was no official word on his whereabouts. Snatched in 2017. Half a dozen unidentified people in wheelchairs from their apartment in Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel. It was not until 2020 that the group yesterday confirmed that Mr Xiao was on the ground and was cooperating with the government’s efforts to reorganize the party.

Yesterday the group did not respond to an email request for comment on Monday.

The privacy of Mr. Xiao’s case may be related to the sensitivity of the information he may have. Mr Xiao was in a good position to learn about the secret wealth of China’s top officials, and he worked hard to present the political elite, including the family of the country’s current leader, Xi Jinping.

Mr Xiao’s disappearance comes amid growing concerns about Chinese aggression in Hong Kong in violation of the “one country, two systems” framework, which aims to boost the region’s sovereignty as well as mainland Chinese intervention. Freedom was to be guaranteed. Coming just a year after five Hong Kong booksellers. Disappeared and reappeared In police custody in China, his case sparked anger and frustration over Beijing’s access to the region, which later ended. Wave of anti-government protests Which shook the city in 2019.

Since then, Beijing has rapidly enacted a law to regain control of the former British colony. National Security Act In 2020, which has suppressed dissent in the city. Last week, Mr. Xi Made a rare appearance In Hong Kong, on the 25th anniversary of its handover from British rule, he announced in a speech that “political power must be in the hands of the patriots.”

Mr Xiao was not the only tycoon to find himself in the crosshairs of the government as part of Mr Xi’s campaign against corruption. Others include oil tycoon Ye Jianming. Searched for contacts in Washington.And Wu XiaohuiThe insurance company bought the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Lai Xiaomin was a former chairman of a financial firm. Executed last year.

More recently, Mr. Xie has tried. Curb the country’s powerful tech titans.Including Jack Ma, the charismatic founder of e-commerce firm Alibaba, who has disappeared from public view in late 2019 after criticizing banking regulators.

Hailing from a poor farming village in eastern China, Mr. Xiao was a young boy who entered Beijing’s famous Peking University at the age of 14. He was president of the university’s public student union when pro-democracy protests erupted in Tiananmen Square in 1989. While many of his classmates took part in the unrest that eventually led to the government’s bloody crackdown, Mr Xiao remained loyal to the government. His good standing later helped him secure funding from a state-sponsored university for some of his early business ventures.

His fortune grew rapidly, in part due to his success in establishing relations with government officials. Most of its business dealings were hidden by a complex network of shell or dummy corporations, which have been used to cover up government officials’ property stakes in China. Corporate records Reviewed by The New York Times in 2014. It is alleged that the ambassador provided the information to Hussein.

Over time, Mr. Xiao made up to $ 5.8 billion. At one point, he owned shares in more than 30 Chinese financial institutions, including Ping An, one of China’s largest insurers, as well as Harbin Bank, Huaxia Bank and Industrial Bank.

But in the end, the group grew so large that it threatened the stability of China’s financial system. In 2019, Chinese authorities stepped in to seize Bao Shang Bank, a lender that was once controlled by the group, when it emerged that the bank was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was the first time in two decades that the government had taken over a bank.

Before his disappearance in 2017, there were signs that Mr Xiao was beginning to feel the changing political winds. He settled in Canada and became a Canadian citizen. He also obtained an Antigua diplomatic passport. She began working most of her time in Hong Kong, where she lived in a four-season serviced apartment, accompanied by a group of female bodyguards.

And when Mr. Xi’s sister and brother-in-law sold their stake in a joint venture with a large Chinese bank in 2013, the buyer was a Chinese company founded by Mr. Xiao.

Amy Chang Chian Cooperation reporting.

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