Alleged insider trader on 'Forbes' rich list for years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2012, 12:00am


Zhang Zhirong, who faces government accusations of illegal share trading in the United States, was ranked the 79th richest businessperson in China by Forbes with an estimated wealth of US$78 million in 2001, when he was just 33.

This March, Forbes estimated his net worth at US$2.6 billion and ranked him the 14th richest person in Hong Kong. It described Zhang, 43, as a Hong Kong resident.

Zhang was listed with a Shanghai residential address under Hong Kong corporate records in 2003.

In its 2001 report, Forbes said he was born in Jiangsu and moved to Shanghai at the age of 11 with his father, Zhang Dehuang.

'In 1990, he used his savings of US$3,600 from previous odd jobs, soon moving into Shanghai real estate. In 1997 Zhang developed several well-known Shanghai residential estates,' the magazine reported.

Zhang founded Glorious Property in Shanghai in 1996 and listed it in Hong Kong in 2009. In its IPO prospectus, the property company stated as one of its risk factors its reliance on Shanghai Ditong Construction for more than 85 per cent of its construction work from 2006 to April 2009. Shanghai Ditong was 98.67 per cent owned by Zhang's parents in 2009, the prospectus said.

Well Advantage, a British Virgins Island company wholly owned by Zhang, held 27.76 million shares of Glorious Property on December 30 last year, according to the Hong Kong stock exchange website.

In 2004, Zhang and a business partner, Chen Qiang, founded China Rongsheng Heavy Industries, which was mainland China's largest shipbuilder last year in terms of new orders and the third-largest in the world. Rongsheng raised US$1.8 billion from its Hong Kong listing in November 2010.

A commentary published in the South China Morning Post in November 2010 said: 'Zhang is clearly well connected. In November [2009], the Shanghai government put out two pieces of land on tender. But only a shipbuilder or repairer was allowed to bid. Guess what? A shipbuilder owned by Zhang submitted the only bid and got it at the asking price of 2 billion yuan, 20 per cent below what the government had asked for in a 2008 failed tender. Zhang subsequently sold the two pieces of land to Glorious.'

Attempts to reach Zhang for comment were unsuccessful.