‘Red notice issued for Sing Pao chief’s arrest on behalf of Shenzhen authorities’

Gu Zhuoheng wanted for suspected involvement in HK$173 million illegal funds case

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 March, 2017, 11:55am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 8:28am

Mainland authorities have sought help from Interpol for the arrest of Sing Pao Daily boss Gu Zhuoheng over suspected illegal financial activities, according to sources.

Gu, chairman of Sing Pao Media Enterprises, which owns the long-time pro-establishment daily newspaper, is wanted by Shenzhen police for an alleged connection to a case involving the illegal receipt of 150 million yuan (HK$173 million) from Shenzhen-based financial platform cnmeidai.com.

But Gu said in a statement that he would not comment on news of the Interpol notice as it came from unofficial channels. He reiterated that he had nothing to do with the financing platform and dismissed claims of suspected fraud as “fabrications”.

A source with the Shenzhen authorities concerned said the intergovernmental organisation based in Lyon, France, had recently issued a “red notice” for Gu’s arrest. His assets on the mainland had also been frozen, the source said.

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The Post has not been able to independently verify the information.

Interpol told the Post on Thursday it would not comment on specific cases or individuals except in special circumstances.

A spokesman said member countries had the option of having an abridged version of the red notice posted on Interpol’s website or could ask for it not to be publicised.

“Red notices are issued only to Interpol member countries if the requesting [country] has provided all the information required by the general secretariat,” the spokesman added.

Issued at the behest of a member country, a red listing means the person concerned is wanted by a national jurisdiction for prosecution or to serve a sentence.

Gu’s name was not on Interpol’s online database for red notices on Thursday evening. There are at least 47 red notices out on other people wanted by China, according to the list.

A red notice is not an international arrest warrant.

Meng Hongwei, China’s former deputy minister of public security, was elected president of Interpol – the first Chinese ever to hold the post – at the international police organisation’s general assembly in Bali, Indonesia, in November last year.

According to information provided by the source, Gu set up cnmeidai.com with a partner in Lo Wu in July 2012 as a peer-to-peer online investment and financing platform promising “10 to 20 per cent” annual returns. It went bust in November 2014, and about 350 investors suffered cumulative losses amounting to some 960 million yuan, the source added.

It is understood that the platform’s chief financial officer is being scheduled for trial, along with Gu’s wife.

Shenzhen police said they had no information about the detention of Gu’s wife, Shen Wei, in the city. Shenzhen court declined to comment.

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Gu had previously denied having any relationship with the platform and described his case as a revenge-driven political attack because he would not submit to a “certain power”. He did not identify that power.

Sing Pao, known for its conservative editorial policy, raised eyebrows when it began running critical articles last year about Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong.

It has recently accused the liaison office of interfering in Hong Kong’s leadership contest, criticising it for backing the city’s former No 2 official, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. Critics believe Sing Pao’schange of tone is the result of fissures within the Beijing leadership.

Employees at the newspaper have recently been harassed, including a case where red paint was splashed outside the home of a senior staffer. Police are investigating the cases.

Additional reporting by He Hui Feng