Head of China Resources denies corruption allegations

BEIJING (AFP) - The head of giant state-owned conglomerate China Resources has denied allegations of malpractice in a takeover deal after claims he has links with several former top Chinese leaders.

Hong Kong's anti-corruption authorities were reportedly given documents this week accusing Mr Song Lin, chairman of China Resources, of corruption in a deal involving a subsidiary listed in the former British colony.

Former journalist Mr Li Jianjun said previous investigations into Mr Song went nowhere because he had the backing of Ms Zhang Beili, the wife of former premier Wen Jiabao, and Mr He Guoqiang, ex-chief of the ruling Communist Party's disciplinary department, Hong Kong's Apple Daily reported on Tuesday.

Mr Song dismissed the allegations as "ridiculous" and threatened legal action over the "smearing".

"The relevant accusations are completely false," he said in a statement posted on China Resources' website on Wednesday.

"Some Hong Kong media even linked the matter with state leaders. Their descriptions are ridiculous," he said.

"I reserve the right to take legal actions against the speech and activities that amount to smearing and deliberately fabricating stories," he said, adding the acquisition complied with Chinese and Hong Kong laws.

Six shareholders of CR Power, the China Resources subsidiary involved, are mounting legal action in Hong Kong against more than 20 of its current and former directors, including Mr Song, over the acquisition.

CR Power and an affiliate agreed to buy several mining and factory assets in 2010 from a private firm in Shanxi province for at least 7.9 billion yuan (S$1.6 billion), according to Mr Wang Wenzhi, a journalist with the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The final cost of the package was around 10.3 billion yuan, with some key price assessment reports provided by an agency hired by the seller, he added, but some of the mines' licences had already expired.

The allegations follow unrelenting anti-corruption rhetoric by China's leaders in recent months, with President Xi Jinping warning graft could "destroy the party" and threatening "no leniency" for those involved.

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