Monday, 23 April 2012

Probe into Bo family’s Hong Kong links

Beijing sends task force to investigate allegations the disgraced former party boss has assets hoarded here

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Guanyu 道 said...

Probe into Bo family’s Hong Kong links

Beijing sends task force to investigate allegations the disgraced former party boss has assets hoarded here

23 April 2012

A task force sent by Beijing is investigating claims that disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai and his family hold huge assets in Hong Kong, sources say.

The task force will also investigate the origins of rumours surrounding Zhou Yongkang, the mainland’s top security official, the sources said.

“The working group which has been investigating issues relating to Bo and Zhou has already arrived in Hong Kong,” according to one source. “One of their main tasks is to investigate the Bo family’s connections and the alleged huge amount of assets held by the family in Hong Kong. They also want to know how Hong Kong people see Zhou, and the relations between Bo and Zhou.”

Another source confirmed that Beijing had already sent a team to Hong Kong to look into assets reportedly belonging to Bo, his wife Gu Kailai and their siblings. The team will investigate how those assets were transferred to Hong Kong and overseas.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong government declined to comment.

Bo Xiyong, Bo Xilai’s elder brother, is apparently an executive director and deputy general manager of Hong Kong-listed China Everbright International, under an assumed name, “Li Xueming”. Gu Wangjiang, Gu Kailai’s eldest sister who is also known as Kuk Mong-kong in Hong Kong, has held directorships in at least nine companies in Hong Kong over the course of more than two decades.

There has been much speculation that Dalian-based billionaire Xu Ming, chairman of mainland conglomerate Dalian Shide, helped Gu Kailai transfer her assets overseas. Xu rose to prominence as a businessman in the northeastern port city at the time when Bo was its mayor.

The Beijing-based Economic Observer newspaper reported that Hong Kong-registered Golden International (Hong Kong) Investment dealt with almost all negotiations concerning projects involving Dalian Shide and foreign firms, on Dalian Shide’s behalf. Xu is a director and shareholder of Golden International.

It is unclear whether the Beijing task force will probe Golden International, which reportedly controls 19 shell companies under Dalian Shide.

Neither Gu Kailai nor Xu have been seen in public since Bo was removed from his post as Chongqing party secretary on March 15. It has been reported that Xu is under investigation, but it was not clear whether that was linked to Bo. According to Xinhua, Gu is being detained and investigated over the death of British businessman Neil Heywood, who was said to have helped her transfer assets overseas.

It is not clear which department or government agency the task force falls under, or how information will be gathered in Hong Kong.

The task force will also be trying to trace the source of reports from Hong Kong relating to Bo, Zhou and alleged power struggles between political factions on the mainland, as well as earlier reports of a rumoured military coup in Beijing.

There have been a flurry of reports and postings online since Bo’s downfall claiming that Zhou - a member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee - was one of Bo’s closest allies within the party’s top echelon.

Zhou made a high-profile visit to the Chongqing delegation at the National People’s Congress session in Beijing on March 8, attending their group discussion and lavishing praise on the city’s accomplishments over the past few years.

Numerous reports in the international media have suggested that, as one of his staunch allies, Zhou had been implicated in Bo’s downfall, with some saying he had been detained. In an apparent bid to quash those rumours, Zhou has since made a number of public appearances, meeting visiting Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa in Beijing on March 23, and going on a tour to Hubei province last week, which received high-profile coverage by state media.