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Crime

Chinese fintech boss arrested in Shanghai over taxi driver’s murder 17 years ago

Suspect adopted new identity and prospered in world of internet finance, report says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 8:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 10:46pm

A senior executive of a Chinese fintech microcredit firm has been arrested over the murder of a taxi driver 17 years ago.

Zhongying Finance, a Shanghai-based company offering online payday loans and other consumer credit, said in a statement on Sunday that its former senior executive Ma Linyu was under arrest for a crime 17 years ago.

The corporate statement did not elaborate, but said it was referring to recent media reports, the case was not related to the company and Ma had been sacked as a senior executive.

A subsidiary of the official Hangzhou Daily reported on Saturday that police in Zhejiang province had arrested Ma over a murder in Datang township, Zhuji county, in 2000.

Zhuji police, which have jurisdiction in the case, said in a brief statement that they had arrested a suspect with the surname “Jia” who had been at large for 17 years. The arrest was made on November 22 in Shanghai’s Yangpu district. The police statement did not specify the suspect’s name or title.

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A police officer at the Zhuji public security bureau told the South China Morning Post the case was a criminal investigation but declined to confirm media reports that the suspect Jia and Ma Linyu were the same person.

Phone calls to the company went unanswered.

But in a report on Monday, Zhuji Daily, a mouthpiece of the county government, cited police officers in charge of the case as saying the suspect Jia changed his surname to Ma in 2009.

State-backed Thepaper.cn said it confirmed with an employee from Zhongying that the suspect was its former senior executive Ma Linyu.

According to the Zhuji Daily report, Jia moved to Datang from neighbouring Anhui province in search of a job in 2000 but teamed up with two other Anhui men to rob taxis when he could not find enough work.

On November 1 that year, the trio stole 400 yuan and two mobile phones from a taxi driver and killed the driver, the report said. One of the three suspects drove the taxi home and was arrested within days. He was sentenced to death despite confessing to the crime and naming his accomplices.

A second suspect was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison, the report said.

But the third, Jia, disappeared, cutting all family ties and changing his name to Ma in 2009 after “buying” an identity card, according to Zhuji Daily.

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With a new name and identity, Ma joined the burgeoning world of internet finance and proved to be a quick learner.

Ma prospered, got married and had a daughter. When his wife asked to meet her parents-in-law, Ma said he was an orphan and adopted by a family he hated, according to the report.

Ma Linyu co-founded an internet finance company in 2013.

Zhongying has more than 4,000 staff and over 200 branches across country. One of its payday loan products charges an annualised rate of 589 per cent, according to its website.

“He is very smart. When internet finance started in 2009, he was already quite knowledgeable and experienced in the field and performed well at work,” an officer in charge of the case was quoted as saying.

“He would absolutely be a successful person had he not been arrested.”