Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Panama Papers reveal offshore secrets of China’s 'red nobility'

One third of Mossack Fonseca’s business came from its offices in Hong Kong and China

    At least eight members of China’s “red nobility” have relatives who have controlled secretive offshore companies, it has been revealed.

    The leaked “Panama Papers”, from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, reportedly show prominent figures, including current and former Chinese leaders, have links to offshore companies set up by the firm, including Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    The brother-in-law of the President Xi was a director and shareholder of two offshore companies, Wealth Ming International and Best Effect Enterprises, which both existed for around 18 months before being closed between 2010 and 2011, the Guardian reports.

    The teenage granddaughter of Jia Oinglin, who was the fourth ranked leader in China between 2002 and 2012, was a registered shareholder of two British Virgin Islands companies.

    The companies, Harvest Sun Trading Limited and Xin Sheng Investments Limited, were reportedly registered in her name in 2010, when she had just begun studying at Stanford University in the US.

    The daughter of Li Peng, the fourth Premier of the People’s Republic of China who oversaw the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, owned a British Virgin Islands company called Cofic Investments Limited in 1994.

    The brother of former vice-president Zeng Qinghong and the son of former Politburo member Tian Jiyun were found to be directors of a single offshore company registered initially in the South Pacific island of Niue and then in Samoa.

    Hu Dehua, the son of Hu Yaobang, the Communist party’s general secretary who was ousted in 1987, is registered as the sole shareholder of a British Virgin Islands company called Fortalent International Holdings.

    Other relatives include Lee Shing Put, the son-in-law of Zhang Gaoli, a member of China’s powerful seven-member Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee, and Gu Kailai, the wife of Bo Xilai, an ex-Politburo member jailed for corruption and power abuses.

    The data, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitungand shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), shows nearly one third of Mossack Fonseca’s business came from its offices in Hong Kong and China, the BBC reports.

    This made China the law firm’s largest market and many of the names uncovered in the documents have been linked to offshore banking in past.

    Owning off-shore companies is not illegal in China and there is no indication of any wrong doing, however the leaks have highlighted the hidden wealth of some of China’s most powerful families, which has already caused China’s censors to crackdown on online access to the unfolding revelations.

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