TAIYUAN - A coal baron who was the richest man in coal-rich Shanxi province is suspected of having left the country on a false passport and is wanted by police.
Zhang Xinming, chairman of the Shanxi Jinye Coal & Coking Group, was discovered to have obtained a false ID card and a false passport in Henan, under the name of Zhu Lei. Zhang, 47, is now on the Henan provincial public security bureau's wanted list, Henan's Zhengzhou Evening News reported on Saturday.
He used the fake documents repeatedly to visit Macao and some foreign countries.
Zhang is suspected of fraudulently obtaining exit and entry documents, according to the national fugitive database, which was quoted in the news report.
In recent years, Zhang was among the richest people in the country according to the Hurun Rich List and the Forbes China Rich List.
In 2005, he ranked seventh on the Hurun China Energy List, with a fortune of 1 billion yuan ($150 million).
Zhang was born into a farm family in the village of Wu'ermao in Shanxi province and was still a coal miner in the 1980s. He started the Jinye Group as a family business, from scratch in the mid-1990s, by getting his foot in the door of the coal transportation business using railways. He then expanded gradually into coke production and coal mining.
In 2002, he founded a coking plant in Gujiao, Shanxi province, and later purchased coal mines there. His wealth grew rapidly with the country's soaring demand for energy resources, the news report said.
Zhang's two brothers, Zhang Xinyue and Zhang Xinliang, helped manage the group, which includes several transport companies, coal washing facilities, real estate development companies, and a 3.8-km special coke-transporting railway line.
It was previously reported that Zhang had been suspected by public security departments for possible involvement in gang-related crimes and corruption. He had planned, in 2009, to transfer ownership of the group to the State-owned Datong Coal Mine Group, for a price of 8 billion yuan, according to the report.
But in 2010, China Resources Power Holdings Company bought all group shares for more than 10 billion yuan, while Zhang transferred his assets abroad under a false name.
Jinye Group's website could not be accessed and its phone was not being answered on Sunday.
Yang Xingwang, 51, the Wu'ermao village head, told China Daily that Zhang was a forthright person who had done a lot of good for his village: "He's a very nice man. I never thought he would be wanted by the police."
Yang said Zhang has used his own money to pave roads, build power facilities and other infrastructure for the village and about 300 villagers worked for the group.