Business / Industries

China hunts law-breaking billionaire

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-08-12 15:56

NANNING - An international manhunt is underway for a Chinese businessman who fled the country following allegations of fraud, authorities said Tuesday.

The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) has issued a red notice for Liao Rongna of the Zhengling Group, a private conglomerate based in Liuzhou city, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. He is suspected of obtaining loans and investments under false pretenses and misappropriation of funds, according to Liuzhou public security bureau.

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Liao, 58, is said to have cheated his way into several billion yuan of loans by promising investors high returns, then failed to repay the debt. Being found guilty of this kind of crime in China can result in a death sentence.

Liao's inner circle are just as embroiled in the racket as he. His wife, Ye Zhiqun, former vice chairman of the Zhengling board, is also on the run and his younger son, a former chairman of Zhengling, was detained by police in June, the bureau told Xinhua.

Liao Rongna's personal financial power seems to have been the key to the staggering amount of money he amassed. He was on the Hurun Rich List in 2009 and has always been regarded as the richest man in Liuzhou. The Zhengling Group covers a wide range of businesses -- automobiles, construction materials and logistics -- and was once one of the top 100 enterprises in Guangxi, so it is no surprise that he managed to woo investors into lending him huge sums on the promise of lucrative returns.

Li, another local entrepreneur, runs a business selling chemicals and cosmetics in Liuzhou. "I lent him 20 million yuan ($3.25 million) only this March, because he assured me that I could get a rate of 0.3 percent per day," said Li, who had previously splashed out 37 million yuan on a deal he thought was too good to be true. He was right. Liao has not paid back the money.

According to Li, people all over Guangxi mortgaged their houses and companies to local banks to raise funds for Liao, only to find the billionaire suddenly incommunicado.

Police found more than 1,500 loan contracts worth 3.2 billion yuan in Zhengling files during their investigation.

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