Jailed Chinese tycoon and ally of disgraced princeling Bo Xilai dies of heart attack
Family and top firm managers shocked by death of Dalian Shide founder Xu Ming
A former high-flying Dalian tycoon associated with disgraced princeling Bo Xilai reportedly died of a heart attack in a Hubei prison on Friday, roughly nine months before he was due to be released, mainland media reported yesterday.
Xu Ming, 44, founded Dalian Shide – a conglomerate that ranged from construction materials to insurance, real estate and soccer – in 1992 and was one of the mainland’s youngest billionaires.
He was jailed for four years in late 2012 for offering Bo and his family 20.6 million yuan (HK$24.9 million) in bribes.
READ MORE: Bo Guagua, son of jailed Chinese official Bo Xilai, appears in public at New York book signing
It was his last appearance in public.
Senior Shide management and members of Xu’s family arrived in Wuhan on Saturday, business news outlet Caixin reported.
Prism, an investigative website operated by Tencent, said Xu’s ashes were handed over to his family in Dalian yesterday. A short memorial service was held before the ashes were interred.
The Prism report cited a senior Shide manager and sources close to Xu’s family as saying that his death was a shock.
The manager said he had never heard of Xu having a heart problem.
READ MORE: Chinese prosecutor in murder trial of wife of disgraced Party official Bo Xilai found hanged
Xu’s ties to Bo came under the spotlight a few years ago when graft-busters began investigating the Chongqing boss.
Bo was sentenced to life in prison in 2013 for corruption and abuse of power. He had been ousted as the party chief of Chongqing and from the Communist Party’s elite Politburo in 2012 after his police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to the US consulate in Chengdu. Xu was reportedly close to Wang as well.
Xu was also well known as the owner of the Dalian Shide soccer team.
The South China Morning Post has reported in 2012 that Xu had admitted that he wasn’t interested in soccer, but the investment in a local team and the squad’s five national league championships burnished Xu’s relationship with soccer fan Bo, who was then mayor of Dalian.
Xu was granted some freedoms behind bars, including being able to make calls to his brother and Shide chairman Xu Bin, according to Prism.