Chinese graft fugitive Cheng Muyang, now a Canada property mogul, seeks refugee status
Vancouver property magnate, unveiled as mainlander on the run from graft-busters, has hired same lawyer as smuggler Lai Changxing
UPDATE: Michael Ching Mo Yeung has commenced legal proceedings against South China Morning Post in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Mr Ching alleges in his lawsuit that this article contains false and defamatory statements, and that the conduct of South China Morning Post and its reporter was malicious, reprehensible, high-handed, and blameworthy.
Chinese corruption fugitive Cheng Muyang - who has been identified as Vancouver property developer Michael Ching Mo Yeung – is seeking refugee status in Canada as he seeks to evade mainland authorities.
Federal Court documents show that rejected refugee claimant Ching Mo Yeung has hired renowned human rights lawyer David Matas, who also represented smuggler Lai Changxing. Michael Ching uses “Mo Yeung” as his Chinese given name, according to documents related to land redevelopment in British Columbia and is the president and founder of Mo Yeung International Enterprise Ltd, a major Vancouver real estate firm. “Ching Mo Yeung” is the Cantonese variant of “Cheng Muyang”, the name under which he is being sought by Interpol.
Lai also claimed refugee status in Canada in a last-ditch bid to thwart mainland authorities; he failed, and is now serving a life sentence in China.
The South China Morning Post revealed yesterday that Cheng Muyang was Michael Ching. Photographs of Ching from 2011 show the same facial features seen on the man in an Interpol Red Notice, including a distinctive mole on the right eyebrow ridge. The Post’s findings were confirmed by Guo Guangyun, a former mid-ranking official who spent years exposing the Cheng family’s corruption.
Ching has refused to discuss the Post’s discovery of his identity, and calls to his office went unanswered on Wednesday.
Ching Mo Yeung, whose pursuit of Canadian citizenship has been winding its way through the Federal Court system since at least 2006, has managed to keep some details of his legal history sealed.
However, court listings show that the Federal Court in Winnipeg, where Matas is based, has scheduled a special hearing on June 23 for Ching Mo Yeung to challenge the rejection of his refugee claim.
The Post asked Matas to confirm that his client was Mo Yeung International’s Michael Ching. Matas was also asked to confirm that his client was also Cheng Muyang, as depicted in the Interpol Red Notice.
“I cannot respond to queries about clients without authorisation from clients,” said Matas in a carefully worded statement on Tuesday. “If I were to give this response only in cases where persons were clients, the response would become a confirmation that the person is my client. In order for confidentiality to be comprehensive, I cannot respond to the question whether someone is or is not my client, even if the person is not my client.
“I can inform you that, as a general practice, when I receive a media inquiry about a client, I do pass it on to the client.”
The Post has received no response from Matas’ client to its request for an interview.
Matas is a vocal critic of China’s government who in 2006 co-authored the Kilgour-Matas report on allegations of live organ harvesting in China. He has also condemned Canada’s 2011 decision to extradite Lai, who he portrayed as a scapegoat.
Cheng Muyang, 45, is the son of Hebei communist party chief Cheng Weigao, who was himself investigated for corruption and expelled from the party in 2003. He died in disgrace in 2010. Cheng Muyang was included last week on a list of 100 fugitives being sought by China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). Cheng Muyang emigrated to Hong Kong in 1993, according to state media. Accused of graft and concealing illegal asset transfers, he then fled to Canada in 2000, the CCDI said.
Ching Mo Yeung’s pursuit of a Canadian passport entered the Federal Courts on June 14, 2006, when lawyer Lawrence Wong filed an appeal in Vancouver against the failure of immigration authorities to have processed Ching’s citizenship application.
A database of case submissions mentions a July 2006 letter from Ching Mo Yeung, in which he refers to an “alleged investigation” that apparently delayed the decision on his application.
In August 2006, Wong filed a fresh application for judicial review of Ching Mo Yeung’s case, seeking a “mandamus” order from the court that CIC fulfil their obligation to process the application. The request was successful: In a ruling by Federal Court Judge Yves de Montigny, dated April 10, 2007, Canada’s immigration ministry was ordered to “make its best efforts to complete the processing of the application for citizenship on or before Aug 1, 2007.”
It was five years before Ching Mo Yeung’s case returned to court - and it became obvious that his citizenship application had failed. In April 2012, he launched another case, headed by prominent Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati. Listed as a defendant was Kashi Mattu a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board serving in the immigration appeal division.
But Ching Mo Yeung was apparently no closer to Canadian citizenship, because in January 2013, his case was back in Federal Court, with Galati filing a new application for a judicial review of a decision by the government’s immigration appeal division dated December 28, 2012. This was rejected by judge Michael Shore in May 2013.
It was around this time, during a separate action against Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, that Ching Mo Yeung successfully sought to file evidence in the form of a confidential affidavit that would “remain sealed and … may only be viewed by the judge assigned to hear the application, the respondent and counsel for the respondent”. Ching Mo Yeung was also allowed by Judge Michael Manson to file a confidential memorandum of fact about his case.
Ching Mo Yeung then applied for refugee status, in either 2013 or 2014.
And on August 27, 2014, Interpol issued its Red Notice seeking the arrest of fugitive Cheng Muyang.
Less than three months later, Ching Mo Yeung’s application for refugee status was rejected, subsequent court action demonstrates.
On November 21 last year, with Matas now serving as his solicitor, Ching Mo Yeung sought a judicial review “against a decision [by the] Refugee Protection Division, Immigration and Refugee Board, decision dated 04-Nov-2014”, the federal court database shows. Judge James Russell granted the request and scheduled the June 23 special sitting in Winnipeg.
UPDATE: On August 23, 2016, Interpol concluded that data registered in its files concerning Michael Ching Mo Yeung was not compliant with Interpol’s rules and, accordingly, the data including the Interpol “red notice” previously issued was deleted.