Media mogul held over ties to bribery case

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 April, 2005, 12:00am

The mainland's top media tycoon has been detained over his alleged links to the corruption scandal that led to the downfall of the former head of the China Construction Bank.

Qin Hui , the 36-year-old owner of the Hong Kong-listed SMI Corp, SMI Publishing and M Channel, was taken from his Beijing home by municipal public security officials last Monday to 'assist in a case investigation', according to the Beijing Times.

The paper said the case was the scandal surrounding Zhang Enzhao , the former bank president who is the subject of a US lawsuit alleging he took more than US$1 million in bribes from an American hi-tech firm

Mr Qin's Xingmei Chuanmei media group, which owns 17 domestic companies - ranging from cable networks and film production firms to movie theatres - obtained 'a large amount of loans' from the bank in 2002, it said.

According to the Sichuan-based Chongqing Morning Post, Mr Qin offered 300,000 yuan to Mr Zhang, ostensibly for medical treatment for his father.

Xingmei vice-chairman Hao Bin confirmed that Mr Qin had been detained over bribery allegations linked to the bribery case, according to the Beijing Times.

Mr Zhang was fired last month after allegedly receiving many kickbacks for handing out lucrative bank loans.

He is now being held under shuanggui, a Communist Party procedure that requires a person to report to investigators at specific times and locations.

'I don't think he [Mr Qin] is the only person assisting the police with their investigation into the case,' Mr Hao was quoted as saying by the Times.

Mr Qin, who is billed as 'China's No1 media tycoon' by the mainland press, has been on a fast track to fame and wealth.

He started his media empire in 2000 by acquiring a communications company listed on the Shanghai stock market and a year later he formed Xingmei Chuanmei.

In 2003, he ventured into the Hong Kong stock market, buying more than a 25 per cent share of Oriental Charm, an entertainment company whose clients include local celebrities Alan Tam Wing-lun and Eric Tsang Chi-wai.

Mr Qin's Hong Kong business expanded last year after SMI Publishing purchased Sing Pao, a Chinese-language newspaper with 65 years of history.

Sing Pao's editor-in-chief, Kwok Yat-ming, said that the newspaper's editorial operations had not been affected by Mr Qin's detention.