Son of ex-Chinese leader has 'nothing to hide'

(Clockwise from top left): Architect Patrick Henri Devillers, linked to wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai; Jia Liqing; Hu Dehua; Deng Jiagui; and Li Xiaolin.
(Clockwise from top left): Architect Patrick Henri Devillers, linked to wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai; Jia Liqing; Hu Dehua; Deng Jiagui; and Li Xiaolin.PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS

HONG KONG • The son of China's late leader Hu Yaobang who was named in the leaked Panama Papers has admitted to having an offshore company, but says he has nothing to hide.

However, Mr Hu Dehua, the businessman son of the former Communist Party chief who was ousted in 1987 because of his liberal bent, told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) he had nothing to hide.

"When asked by the media, of course, I should respond," he said in an interview last Friday. "I think this is very straightforward and there is nothing to hide."

He had confirmed to Hong Kong media outlets last Thursday that he had registered the British Virgin Island entity, Fortalent International Holdings, in 2003, SCMP said.

"The registration was all above board using my own passport under my real name," Mr Hu was quoted by SCMP as saying.

He said the move was to help his mainland-based company, Beijing Talent Technology Development, to go public in Hong Kong.

The listing attempt failed, but Mr Hu kept the offshore company, which had no capital or business operations over the years, SCMP said.

Family members of at least eight current and former Chinese top officials have been named in the Panama Papers as being the owners or shareholders of secretive offshore companies, including the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping, the daughter of former premier Li Peng, as well as the daughter-in-law of current propaganda chief Liu Yunshan and the son-in-law of current vice-premier Zhang Gaoli.

Chinese law does not ban its citizens from setting up offshore entities and the leaked documents by themselves do not show evidence of any wrongdoing or illegal activities.

But the leak has caused an uproar around the world for shedding light on how the wealthy stash away their riches and possibly evade taxes.

Mr Hu is the first and only Chinese named in the documents to comment on the issue so far.

He told SCMP he did not know why the others had chosen not to respond. He said: "This is my style of doing things - a habit I've formed over all these the years But I can't demand everyone to be like me."

Mr Hu is a former teacher of communication technologies and a researcher in software engineering, and did not set up his own company until 1994, five years after his father died.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'Son of ex-Chinese leader has 'nothing to hide''. Print Edition | Subscribe