Prosecutors in Shanghai on Wednesday formally approved the arrest of Chinese tycoon Wang Zhenhua who was detained last week on suspicion of child sexual abuse, state media reported. “Based on a police investigation, confessions from the suspects, statements from victims and testimony from witnesses, Wang and Zhou are suspected of committing crimes of sexual molestation against children,” Shanghai police said in a statement. Zhou is a 49-year-old woman identified earlier as having taken two girls, aged nine and 12, to a five-star hotel in Shanghai, where Wang, the 57-year-old former chairman of Hong Kong-listed property firm Future Land Development, is said to have been waiting. Images of Wang and Zhou behind bars in a detention centre in Shanghai were shown in a report by state broadcaster CCTV. The report named the pair but still pixelated their faces. News of the suspects’ arrest came after days of online speculation and media reports about Wang and Zhou, both of whom were detained on July 1, three days after a woman had complained to police that her nine-year-old daughter had been sexually assaulted. One media report said Zhou was friends with the girls’ parents and had told them she was taking the youngsters to Shanghai Disneyland. Another report claimed to have evidence that a child had been molested, though it did not provide a source. Wang ‘took children as his playthings’, top legal affairs agency says Wang Qiushi, a lawyer at the Binli Law Firm in Heilongjiang, said that it was notable that the formal charge sheet used the term “sexual molestation” rather than rape as the sentences for the two crimes differed significantly. “There has not been an official conclusion of the [alleged] victim’s injuries,” he said. “I hope the police conduct a thorough investigation.” Under Chinese law, the crime of rape carries a sentence of between three and 10 years in prison, while sexual molestation of children has a maximum penalty of five years in jail. Shares in Future Land fell by 40 per cent in the days after Wang’s detention, wiping almost 50 billion yuan (US$7.25 billion) off the value of the company. On Friday, the company published an open letter in which it said it was “deeply sorry and upset” for the great pains that “the company founder” had caused to the victims and their families. It did not mention Wang by name. On July 3, Wang Xiaosong, Wang Zhenhua’s son, was elected Future Land’s chairman, and the company said his father had been removed from all of his positions.