Low-profile businessman running Hong Kong newspaper hits the headlines over alleged fraud case

Gu Zhuoheng has interests in mining and fund management; he was appointed Sing Pao chairman in October 2014

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 September, 2016, 7:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 September, 2016, 10:33pm

A low-profile businessman involved in mining and fund management on the mainland, Gu Zhuoheng became chairman and an executive director of Sing Pao Media Enterprises, the parent company of the newspaper, in October 2014.

In a statement at the time, the company said Gu “graduated from the Distance Learning Collage [sic] of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, majoring in legal studies”.

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Gu was described as “a successful businessman with substantial investments in various sectors”, including mining and fund and property management both on the mainland and in Hong Kong.

The statement also said Gu ran a number of mines on the mainland, but did not give details.

Gu attracted media attention in July last year after Sing Pao Daily News was forced to suspend its print edition for 20 days because it failed to pay its printing expenses amid financial problems at Sing Pao Media Enterprises.

Staff published the newspaper’s content online and on its mobile app. Publication resumed in early August last year.

To mark the relaunch, Gu, who is said to be good at Chinese calligraphy, wrote a brand new masthead for Sing Pao.

A Sing Pao report in August last year quoted senior management as saying that Gu would sometimes suddenly stand up at meetings, go to his desk and start writing calligraphy. “After a while, he would go back to the meeting table and give instructions.”

However, the 44-year-old encountered trouble in April last year. His name was associated in mainland media reports with a fraud case concerning a Shenzhen online financing platform, cnmeidai.com. The reports said that Gu was wanted by Shenzhen police.

Gu at the time denied the reports, stressing he “has been and is enjoying freedom of entry from and to the mainland and Hong Kong”.

Despite his denial, the allegations did not subside.

The semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency and pro-Beijing daily Wen Wei Po reported again on Wednesday that Gu was a wanted man, citing confirmation by Shenzhen police. He was accused of stealing deposits totalling 130 million yuan (HK$151 million) from cnmeidai.com.

The reports claimed Gu had fled overseas.

Gu again denied the reports, rejecting them as “libellous”.

A report by another pro-Beijing newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, on Thursday further alleged that Gu was intercepted by law enforcers at Shenzhen airport two years ago in connection with the cnmeidai.com case and officers found three ID documents on him. They included two ID cards with different names, dates of birth and addresses, the report said.