A missing businessman who was once honoured for pledging 20 million yuan to the Red Cross Society of China has been ordered by a Beijing court to pay a quarter of that amount to the organisation.
Tongkang Group chairman Dong Zhanyi was described as the mainland's first 'charity ambassador' three years ago, when he made his multimillion-yuan commitment to fund a Red Cross project to establish a national marrow-donor database for leukaemia patients.
If Mr Dong's donation had been realised, it would have been the largest gift the organisation had ever received.
The pledge earned him the Red Cross Medal and a place as an honorary director, but Mr Dong disappeared in August when the payment was due, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
The Beijing Intermediate People's Court upheld an application from the society that Mr Dong be ordered to pay 5 million yuan.
Red Cross Society lawyer Liu Anyuan said it had only demanded 5 million yuan to save on legal fees, but he admitted there was only a slim chance that Mr Dong could be found and the judgment enforced.
Mainland media reported that the Tongkang Group, which described itself as a bio-tech company, had its business licence revoked for failing an annual check by the local industry and commerce administration two years ago.
Peking University law school professor Yin Tian said organisations should check donor's credentials.
'An amendment in 1999 to the contract law made donor contracts effective from the moment they are signed, rather than after the donation is made,' Professor Yin said.
'The amendment was meant to stop entrepreneurs from 'stealing fame' and not living up to their commitments.'