Tycoon: Xi Jinping's kin owned firm's stock

BEIJING • Chinese President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law owned stock in a firm controlled by the country's richest man Wang Jianlin, the businessman confirmed in the wake of allegations that political connections helped Wanda Group grow.

His declaration follows a sweeping anti-corruption drive under Mr Xi that has targeted both prominent cadres and low-level officials.

Yesterday, China's anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said a former top security official in Tibet would be prosecuted for suspected corruption - a rare case involving the remote and restive region. Mr Le Dake was deputy head of its regional legislature when the probe began in June.

Mr Xi's campaign has seen thousands dismissed from their posts, with some receiving lengthy prison terms, but critics argue it has been used to purge his political rivals.

An investment firm owned by Mr Xi's brother-in-law, Mr Deng Jiagui, bought shares in Wanda's commercial property unit during a private placement in 2009, Mr Wang said at a Harvard Business School forum on Thursday.

Mr Deng's firm sold the stock "at a low price point" two months before the unit's multibillion-dollar initial public offering in Hong Kong in December last year, Mr Wang said.

"He sacrificed the opportunity to realise a huge return in investment," Mr Wang said, according to a press release yesterday.

"This incident demonstrates that President Xi is not only strict in managing our country but is even more scrupulous when it comes to family affairs."

The comments were made in response to a question about a New York Times article alleging that friends and relatives of China's top leadership had made more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) from investments in Wanda's commercial property and cinema companies.

Yesterday, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the allegations.

"There are all kinds of such rumours flowing around," spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing. "I don't think they need a comment."

Mr Wang, 61, is the world's 15th richest man, based on Bloomberg's real-time ranking, which put his net worth at US$36.2 billion on Thursday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2015, with the headline 'Tycoon: Xi Jinping's kin owned firm's stock'. Print Edition | Subscribe