Tycoon Ding and the downfall of rail chief

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 January, 2012, 12:00am

Mainland media have exposed more details about the rise and fall of Shanxi billionaire Ding Shumiao, a key figure in the corruption case of former railways minister Liu Zhijun.

Ding (pictured), who hails from a poor rural family in Qinshui county, established social relations and courted officials to build up her business, which was worth more than 4 billion yuan (HK$4.9 billion) by September 2010, The Beijing News said.

Having been put under investigation in January last year for bribing railway officials, including Liu, the well-connected businesswoman lost her political status as a member of Shanxi's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on Saturday, the Shanxi Daily reported.

Previous media reports have said Ding used her connections to make her company a supplier of noise barriers to several important high-speed railway lines in 2009.

She also allegedly took several hundred million yuan in bribes from other high-speed railway contractors for helping them win the bids by using her close relationship with the disgraced minister.

Ding started her business career by opening a noodle restaurant in Jincheng, Shanxi, in the early 1980s. Dubbed the mainland's coal capital, Jincheng is where she got acquainted with some coal truck drivers and got to know the coal industry, The Beijing News reported.

She established connections with local officials and started transporting coal by train in the 1990s. She had already earned a great deal of money by selling government quotas for freight train shipments to other coal traders by taking advantage of her good relationship with the officials.

'Ding Shumiao is very good at pleasing people. If she gets a loan of 10 yuan, she would spend eight yuan on making connections. So some people are willing to deal with her,' a villager in her home town was quoted as saying.

She established a coal trading company in Beijing in 2003, and another investment company in 2006 that covered railway projects, television series, and real estate.

The investment company, whose total assets grew from 400 million yuan in 2008 to 4 billion yuan in 2010, won railway projects because of Ding's relations with officials at the railways ministry, and invested in television series because of Liu's interest in pretty women.

Ding reportedly arranged for Liu to have sex with a number of young women, including stars from a popular TV series, Dream of the Red Chamber, in which her company invested about 50 million yuan.