China Everbright yesterday denied reports that executive director and general manager Shao Zhengkang has been detained in Beijing for an internal government investigation involving former chairman Zhu Xiaohua. 'We have not been informed by any governmental departments in Beijing that Mr Shao is being investigated,' a spokesman said. 'Mr Shao is now on a business trip in Beijing.' The spokesman said the red chip was in constant contact with Mr Shao, to ensure the normal operations of the company. He did not say when Mr Shao would return to Hong Kong. China Everbright is the listed flagship of mainland conglomerate China Everbright Holdings. Other listed companies in the group include China Everbright International and China Everbright Technology. According to media reports, Mr Shao was being investigated for his involvement in 'economic irregularities' surrounding Mr Zhu, who was sacked by the central government in July. Sources close to China Everbright said Mr Shao was called to Beijing late last month and asked to help investigators unravel the scandal involving Mr Zhu. 'He has been asked to help on the case, just like other company officials,' a source said. However, Mr Shao had not been detained by authorities, other sources said. 'I had a telephone conversation with him [on Sunday],' said a source who did not believe Mr Shao had been arrested. Mr Shao, who joined China Everbright in 1995, is viewed as a close associate of Mr Zhu. Both men worked together at the International Monetary Fund in Washington and the People's Bank of China, the central bank. Before joining China Everbright as general manager, Mr Shao was chief of the general office of China Everbright Holdings, reporting directly to Mr Zhu. Shares prices of China Everbright companies plunged sharply yesterday. China Everbright fell 8.18 per cent to HK$5.05 on a turnover of HK$40.27 million. China Everbright International fell 5.37 per cent to 44 HK cents, while China Everbright Technology fell 5.47 per cent to 69 HK cents. The China Everbright spokesman said that some investors might have dumped the stocks because of the reports about Mr Shao. Nonetheless, he said the performance of the stocks in the long run would be determined by the group's fundamentals, not the rumours. Mr Shao has been rumoured to be leaving China Everbright soon to join locally listed but mainland-controlled Yixing Xinwei as managing director. Yixing Xinwei is a manufacturer of rare-earth products, which are widely used in car parts, computer monitors, computer electronic motors, and magnetic memory chips.