THE mayor of Shanghai, Mr Huang Ju, has denied reports that the managing director of the city's most prestigeous joint venture Shanghai Volkswagen, Mr Fang Hong, committed suicide amid a financial scandal. ''There are many reports regarding the death of Mr Fang which are inaccurate,'' Mr Huang said. Speaking at a press conference organised by the National People's Congress in Beijing yesterday, Mr Huang said the brief announcement of Mr Fang's death ''from illness'' carried in the official Shanghai newspapers on Sunday represented the true interpretation of events. The announcement said: ''The managing director of Shanghai Volkswagen and Communist Party member, Senior Engineer, Comrade Fang Hong unfortunately died of illness on March 9, 1993, aged 58.'' Neither Mr Huang nor the Shanghai police could specify what illness Mr Fang had died from. Mr Huang went on to say that Mr Fang was a ''diligent, responsible and very enterprising manager'' during his term as managing director which began on January 1, 1991. ''We feel great sorrow at his unfortunate passing away because of illness. We, as well as Shanghai Volkswagen, will make greater efforts in that joint venture in the future to honour his memory,'' Mr Huang said. Despite the mayor's assurances that there was nothing suspicious about Mr Fang's death, many observers remain unconvinced. They point to the inconsistencies in accounts of Mr Fang's death provided by company managers and the numerous reports of his financial impropriety as indicators that the death was not as straightforward as portrayed in the official media.