Chinese tycoon's body identified after French chopper crash

BORDEAUX (AFP) - French police said Wednesday a body found near a river in France's wine-growing Bordeaux region has been identified as Chinese tycoon Lam Kok whose helicopter crashed as he flew over a newly-acquired wine estate.

The body was found on February 14 near the accident site, almost two months after the chopper plunged into the Dordogne river.

"The body was formally identified after DNA tests to be that of Lam Kok," said colonel Ghislain Rety, who heads the gendarmerie in the Gironde, where the vineyard is located.

The 46-year-old tea magnate had invited the press to his lush new property on December 20 to celebrate his US$41-million (S$53 million) purchase.

He took off on a helicopter tour of the estate - which he intended to turn into an elite tea- and wine-tasting retreat - with his 12-year-old son, his financial advisor and the chateau's former owner James Gregoire.

It crashed soon after taking to the air. The three other bodies have been found.

Mr Gregoire, the previous owner, had bought the chateau and accompanying vineyard in 2003 after the former proprietor died in a crash.

He was the latest Chinese investor to acquire a vineyard in Bordeaux's Fronsac wine-producing region and close to the prestigious Saint-Emilion domain.

Wealthy Chinese have developed a taste for fine French wines, and their buying power has been credited with pushing prices for certain vintages to record levels. They are also now acquiring French vineyards.