Woman who built an illegal financial empire in Fujian has her properties ransacked after allegedly vanishing with the cash Thousands of angry villagers in Fujian province have ransacked properties belonging to the owner of an illegal credit fund who has allegedly disappeared with their money, local media reports say. The head of the fund, a wealthy woman surnamed Wang, was still at large after fleeing with family members from southeastern Huian village at the weekend, a local government official confirmed yesterday. Local officials yesterday declined to comment further on Ms Wang, claiming the officers in charge of the case were not available. Officials from nearby Quanzhou city - which administers Huian - said they had despatched police to the village to investigate the incident. Ms Wang is a representative to the local people's congress and operates a factory and supermarket in Huian. Fujian's Strait Herald reported that after Ms Wang disappeared, crowds of furious villagers broke into her factory, supermarket and four-storey villa house and looted almost everything. The mob even stole trees and windows. Police were unable to control the agitated villagers, who finished their rampage by looting the house of Ms Wang's mother, who claimed she had been left with nothing. 'Not even a grain of rice was left,' she was quoted as saying by the local paper. Employees of Ms Wang's factory - which makes feminine hygiene products - and supermarket were among the rioters. The workers said they had not been paid for months. Underground credit funds, which are banned under mainland law, have been a popular channel for investment, especially in affluent eastern coastal provinces, due to their high interest rates. Ms Wang, who is in her 50s, started to build her credit network in village neighbourhoods about 20 years ago, offering interest rates as high as 30 per cent. More than 5,000 residents of the village of 60,000 put their money into her fund, which had ballooned to as much as 100 million yuan, the paper said. The incident was the second drama involving an underground credit fund to emerge in Fujian during the past three months. Violence broke out in the small township of Fuan in May after the collapse of a series of funds worth a combined 2.5 billion yuan. Officials from the China Banking Regulatory Commission have launched an investigation into informal credit funds, which are believed to be rampant in coastal provinces like Fujian, Zhejiang and Guangdong. Analysts say the underground funds are popular because banks are reluctant to lend to small businesses and individuals. 'Their existence indicates that the Chinese financial system is problematic and that reforms are badly needed,' said Zeng Gang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Science in Beijing.