Nearly 30 billionaires formerly on the list of China's richest people have been charged with bribery or are at the center of a police investigation, a new report shows.
Researchers for the Hurun Report, an annual list of China's rich and powerful, yesterday revealed that 19 of the 1,330 business tycoons listed in the past 10 years are either in jail or are waiting for sentencing on bribery charges.
Another 10 on the list are currently under investigation, according to "The Hurun Report: Rich in Trouble".
Seven other tycoons had previously been investigated by police though results of the probes are yet unknown, while seven have disappeared from public life and six are dead.
The report comes amid revelations yesterday that China's top legislature accepted the resignation of an entrepreneur from central Henan province from his post as deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) for alleged involvement in "serious economic crimes".
Cui Mingjie, board chairman and general manager of the Henan Xiecheng (Shoe Town) Leather Company, submitted his resignation to the 10th session of the 11th NPC Standing Committee.
Cui, 41, was ranked 654th in the 2007 Hurun Report.
Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and publisher of the Hurun Report, said ethics and the history of the country's economic development are partly to blame for these problems.
"In the '80s and early '90s, private companies in the country were not allowed to have accounts in banks. Difficulties with fundraising led many private businessmen into tax evasion and bribery," he said in the report.
He said that having 1.4 percent of the listed billionaires in trouble is a "normal" ratio for a booming country.
Among those listed on the Rich in Trouble list is Huang Guangyu, China's richest man last year. Huang, an electronics tycoon worth more than 4 billion yuan ($588 million), has been charged with bribery following a 2008 investigation.
Huang, 39, was charged over share-price manipulation linked to Shandong Jintai Group, a medicine manufacturer owned by his brother, Huang Junqin, economic magazine Caijing reported earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Gu Chujun, former chairman of Guangdong Kelon Electrical Holdings Co Ltd, was arrested by police in September 2005 on suspicion of "economic crimes", referring to a range of violations including bribery, fraud and embezzlement.
Gu, 50, was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment and fined 6.8 million yuan by the Foshan Supreme People's Court on April 9 this year. He was on the list three times between 2001 and 2004.
In 2003, former flower magnate Yang Bin, once listed as China's second richest man with an estimated fortune of $900 million, was jailed 18 years for bribery, fraud and illegal use of farmlands.
Among other notables on the list is Zhou Zhengyi, the Shanghai property tycoon once ranked China's 11th richest man.
Zhou was jailed for 16 years after being convicted of bribery and embezzlement in December 2007.
Nearly all the business people jailed or investigated were involved with bribery.
Wang Chengdong from the Beijing-based China University of Political Science and Law told China Daily yesterday that the government has so much power that business people have to buy privilege, a situation that plants the seeds of bribery.