China starts Pangu Investment fraud trial

Updated 2017-06-10 13:48:38

A court in the northeast China city of Dalian Friday opened a trial into the suspected crimes of Beijing Pangu Investment Co. Ltd, controlled by fugitive Guo Wengui, as well as three of its employees.

The company and its employees Lyu Tao, Xie Honglin and Yang Ying are accused of fraudulently obtaining loans. Lyu Tao and Xie Honglin are also accused of fraudulently obtaining foreign exchange.

According to the indictment, Guo applied for loans from the Agricultural Bank of China under the company's name and directed the three individuals to apply for loans allegedly for the company's construction project in early 2010. The three then asked others to produce fake construction contracts and stamps, before submitting the forged documents to the bank to apply for the loans.

The bank issued loans totalling 3.2 billion yuan (470 million U.S. dollars) to Pangu. The company then presented fabricated invoices and used the loans for other purposes, later having to repay the loan after being found of misusing the money.

Prosecutors also charged Lyu and Xie with fraudulently obtaining foreign exchange totalling 13.5 million U.S. dollars from the Bank of Communications by using falsified furniture import contracts and invoices in 2012. A company controlled by Guo Qiang, the son of Guo Wengui, was used in the fraud.

The money was later transferred to a Hong Kong company for Guo Wengui to buy private aircraft.

The indictment said Guo Wengui and Guo Qiang would be dealt with in separate cases.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in April that Interpol had issued a "red notice" for Guo Wengui.

During Friday's trial, evidence including witness statements and expert opinion were presented. The defendants did not object to any criminal facts and charges from prosecutors. They expressed regret, pleaded guilty and thanked judicial organs for the lawful handling of their cases.

The defendants asked for leniency, saying their actions were made at the instruction or suggestion of Guo Wengui.

Xie told the court that he felt his acts might "violate some rules." However, he said he did not refuse as "my boss told me to do it, so I just followed."

To safeguard the defendants' rights and interests, a pre-trial conference was held, attended by the prosecution team, defendants and their lawyers.

Over 40 people, including families of the defendants, legislators, political advisors and journalists from domestic and overseas media, as well as members of the public, attended the hearing.

Transcripts and footage of the hearing were broadcast by the official microblog of the Dalian Xigang District People's Court. The verdict will be announced at a later date.

Friday's trial is the first court proceeding on a series of cases involving the Beijing Pangu Investment and Beijing Zenith Holdings.

Other cases involving offering bribes, forced transactions, duty-related encroachment, embezzlement, destroying accounting documents and unlawful detention are being handled according to the law.

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