Ponzi scheme tycoon's missing assets revealed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2012, 12:00am

The whereabouts of millions of yuan of assets belonging to the former Zhejiang tycoon Wu Ying, who is on death row pending a final court review, has finally been revealed, almost five years after her arrest.

More than 100 houses, 41 luxury cars and gemstones owned by Wu, the former chairwoman of Bense Holding and once the sixth richest woman on the mainland, are either in police custody or sealed away.

The proceeds of asset sales have been kept in a special account and will be handled according to the law, China News Service reported, quoting an unnamed Dongyang police officer in charge of economic crimes.

Wu's family and the mainland media had questioned the lack of transparency over the disposal of her assets. The family had been kept in the dark about the whereabouts of her jewellery and luxury cars, worth millions of yuan. They also questioned the right of the police to auction her property at below market prices.

The Zhejiang Higher People's Court last month upheld a death sentence imposed by a lower court in 2009. Wu, 30, allegedly raised 770 million yuan (HKS950 million) from 19 investors in a Ponzi scheme that lasted for nearly two years.

Most of her houses and shops were located in Dongyang's Hanning West Road, known by locals as Bense Street.

Dongyang police said most of Wu's property assets had been pawned.

Of her 41 luxury cars, which she bought for more than 20 million yuan, 30 have been sold for 3.9 million yuan. The remaining 11, including a BMW, a Mercedes-Benz and a 3.75 million yuan second-hand Ferrari are rusting away in a police car park.

One police officer told China News Service: 'Most of these cars are registered under the name of Wu Ying but couldn't be auctioned because of procedures. These cars will be disposed of after her case is closed.'

The gemstones, mostly uncarved green jade that cost more than 100 million yuan, were used by Wu to pay off debts, although some are being stored by police, the report said.

A hotel owned by Wu has been sold at auction for 4.5 million yuan, with the proceeds kept in an account specially set up for her case.

Wu, once an unknown beauty salon owner, started to illegally collect funds in 2005 and established Bense a year later, when she had debts of more than 14 million yuan. She used the money she collected to establish many companies to create an image of a bustling business in order to attract more private capital.

She was convicted of illegally collecting up to 770 million yuan from the public by deceptively offering high interest rates.