Real estate tycoon arrested again

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-22 07:19

Zhou Zhengyi. [cnphoto]
SHANGHAI: Former Shanghai real estate tycoon Zhou Zhengyi has been charged with bribery and forging VAT receipts, just months after completing a three-year prison sentence, local authorities said yesterday.

They gave no other details of the charges against Zhou, also known as Chau Ching-ngai.

Zhou was released from prison in May after completing a three-year sentence for fraud and manipulating the stock market.

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But five months later, in October, Zhou was again taken into custody as prosecutors found new evidence against him. He was formally arrested by the municipal procuratorate yesterday.

Zhou, 45, who started business as a teenager with a wonton noodle shop, was one of China's richest business people, with a fortune estimated by business magazine Forbes in 2002 at $320 million, ranking him No 11 on Forbes' list of 100 richest mainlanders.

He was the majority shareholder of Hong Kong-listed Shanghai Land Holdings and Shanghai Merchants Holdings.

The authorities have not said whether Zhou's case is linked to a sweeping corruption investigation in Shanghai that has led to the ouster of the city's Party chief Chen Liangyu. Other Shanghai officials have also been detained.

The head of a jail where Zhou was imprisoned is also being investigated for taking bribes in exchange for giving him preferential treatment

Huang Jian, head of the Shanghai Detention Center, was reportedly detained at the end of December after being accused of accepting 490,000 yuan ($63,000) and jewelry to allow Zhou access to a cell phone and better meals.

Zhou also has been the target of lawsuits by Shanghai residents who say he failed to compensate them adequately for homes that were demolished in a redevelopment project.

Zhou's wife Mao Yuping was sentenced to 32 months in prison in April last year by a Hong Kong court on charges of conspiracy to defraud letters of credits worth HK$49 million ($6.3 million).

Xinhua - Agencies

(China Daily 01/22/2007 page1)

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