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Details emerge in case of fugitive tycoon

China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-27 19:08

New details emerged on Wednesday in the case of Guo Wengui, the fugitive Chinese tycoon suspected of major fraud, including the way Guo used subordinates to create phony contracts and other documents to dupe bank loan officers.

The details were reported by Beijing News.

Guo took out a fraudulent loan of 3.2 billion yuan ($464 million) from the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) using forged official seals, counterfeit contracts and fake invoices, the newspaper reported.

Guo, 50, secured the loan in 2010 in collusion with suspected corrupt officials, the newspaper said. He fled overseas about three years ago and his whereabouts is unknown.

Interpol has issued a "red notice" for the Chinese billionaire, according to Lu Kang, Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a news briefing earlier this month.

Former senior executives who worked for Guo have confirmed that the large loan was obtained illegally, the newspaper said.

Yang Kesen, former legal representative of Beijing Pangu Investment Inc, one of Guo's companies, said he was merely Guo's "puppet".

"I had to do what Guo asked me to do," Beijing News quoted him as saying. He admitted to signing a series of counterfeit documents to help Guo get the loan.

Yang Ying, chief financial officer of Beijing Pangu, said Guo, given his credit status at the time, would not have been granted such a large loan through legal channels.

Xie Honglin, manager of Beijing Pangu's financial department, said, "The company's bank account had less than 10 million yuan on deposit available to Guo in 2009."

At least three senior executives of Beijing Pangu said Guo told them he had gained the support of Xiang Junbo, who was chairman of ABC at the time, according to Beijing News.

Lyu Tao, former deputy general manager of Beijing Pangu, said Guo once asked him and Yang Ying to follow through with the loan application because Xiang had supported it in mid-2010.

According to the newspaper, Guo instructed Lyu to forge the seals of a construction company, and then faked contracts with the company for the construction and interior decoration of his real estate development near National Stadium — Pangu Plaza, which is known for its dragon-shaped building.

Guo also asked Yang Ying to fabricate a "decent" financial statement so it would pass the bank's credit check.

After the loan was granted, Guo used 1.6 billion yuan to buy controlling rights in China Minzu Securities. He also allegedly channeled 600 million yuan via underground banks to Hong Kong, and he spent 70 million yuan for a Hong Kong villa.

The scandal was exposed when the National Audit Office conducted an audit to the Agricultural Bank of China and found the fake invoices provided by Guo's company.

Guo then instructed Lyu and Yang to destroy materials related to the fake invoices and contracts.

Guo managed to pay back the 3.2 billion yuan loan by borrowing money from other sources in 2014, four years ahead of the deadline "because we feared more irregularities would be found if the audit continued," Yang was quoted by Beijing News as saying.

China's top anti-graft authority announced earlier this month that Xiang Junbo, the former ABC chairman and former chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, is under investigation on suspicion of a serious violation of the code of conduct of the Communist Party of China.

Xiang, 60, one of the most prominent financial regulators in China, served as deputy governor of the People's Bank of China between 2004 and 2007. Later he served as chairman of ABC, one of the so-called big five State-owned commercial banks.

Guo and his family ranked 74th on the Hurun China Rich List in 2014 with a fortune of 15.5 billion yuan ($2.25 billion).

During his business career, Guo formed an exclusive club for wealthy and influential people — including senior officials and people from the business sector. It was known as the "Pangu Club" because its members often met at Pangu Plaza.

The club was a collection of senior officials, including Ma Jian, former vice-minister of State security, and Zhang Yue, the top official in charge of political and legal affairs in Hebei province. Both Ma and Zhang are being investigated.

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