Zhu Xiaohua, yesterday jailed 15 years for corruption, rubbed shoulders with Hong Kong's rich and powerful during a glittering three-year stint as head of the China Everbright Group. The 53-year-old was described as having the Midas touch when he arrived in the SAR in the summer of 1996 to turn around the poorly performing financial conglomerate. Zhu - who had so many job titles that his name card folded into three - was wined, dined and flattered by Hong Kong businessmen who hoped to benefit from his close ties to Beijing. A former protege of Premier Zhu Rongji, Zhu Xiaohua was given unfettered power over the financial flagship enterprise of the State Council, Beijing's ultimate decision-making body. China Everbright aimed to become a global financial services powerhouse and planned an initial public offering for its banking unit. Prior to his appointments at China Everbright, Zhu Xiaohua was a former deputy governor of China's central bank and former head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. He also served as a special appointee to the International Monetary Fund. He was nicknamed 'little boss Zhu' in reference to Zhu Rongji's nickname 'boss Zhu'. Premier Zhu, it was said, chose to elevate Zhu Xiaohua partly because of his outspoken character. Zhu Xiaohua's fame and glory were snuffed out abruptly in July 1999, when he was removed suddenly and without explanation from his posts at the conglomerate amid speculation he was being investigated for 'economic irregularities'. He has been out of the public eye since then. Two months ago he was dismissed from his state posts, kicked out of the Communist Party and arrested on corruption charges, accused of taking bribes and violating rules in granting loans. Zhu Xiaohua's downfall has had tragic consequences for his family. His wife killed herself after his detention three years ago. His daughter was severely mentally disturbed by her parents' plight. Zhu Xiaohua is one of three leading mainland banking officials with close ties to Premier Zhu that have been implicated in corruption cases. The former director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange Control, Li Fuxiang, jumped to his death from a Beijing hospital room in 2000. He was said to have been under pressure to give evidence in a corruption case against a former colleague but had refused to do so. Former Bank of China president Wang Xuebing was sacked last January and is being detained for his role in problem loans.