Female magnate linked to disgraced Sichuan party boss Li Chuncheng faces graft arrest

Businesswoman suspected of funds misappropriation, after long being rumoured of embezzling state-owned assets

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 2:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 2:26pm

Prosecutors have issued a warrant of arrest against a Forbes-listed businesswoman linked to many top Sichuan politicians, on allegations she misappropriated funds – the latest in a widening graft crackdown that has shaken the political and business elite in the province over the past year.

Before the latest arrest order, He Yan, the controlling shareholder and founder of Chengdu Gotecom Electronical Technology, which has supplied parts and components to China’s national satellite navigation system Beidou, had been taken into custody in Yichang, Hubei, in July last year, company board secretary Yang Guoyong told Beijing News.

He, who owns a 51 per cent stake in Gotecom, was well-connected with several disgraced Sichuan leaders, including former deputy party chief Li Chuncheng and former vice-governor Guo Yongxiang, according to a Zhengzhou-based paper Henan Shangbao. Both Li and Guo are facing investigation.

However, Gotecom issued a statement on Wednesday that He’s arrest had nothing to do with the company.

He, who established Gotecom in 2003, has been frequently reported to have embezzled state-owned assets in recent years, and rumours about her being placed under investigation have circulated since June last year.

In a separate case, the general manager of state-owned Chengdu Construction Engineering Corporation (CCEC), Huang Kengding, was taken away by Sichuan party discipline watchdogs earlier this month, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, becoming the latest in his company to face a probe.

Within one year, six officers from CCEC – including chairman Zhang Jun – had been placed under investigation, the newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying. Zhang was taken into custody after being implicated in the corruption case of disgraced former deputy provincial party chief Li.

Many party officials and business tycoons in Sichuan province, in the country’s southwest, have been investigated since 2012. Among the first to be apprehended that year was Dai Xiaoming, chairman of state firm Chengdu Industry Investment Group, who was taken into custody in August.

Four months later, Li Chuncheng was detained for “serious violations of laws”. And another few months later, Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor and the chairman of the province’s branch of the Federation of Literary and Art Circles, a national non-governmental organisation, followed.

Apart from CCEC executives, other businesspeople placed under investigation are Tan Jianming, chairman of tap water provider Chengdu Xingrong, and Sichuan Star Cable chairman Li Guangyuan.