Chinese, Hong Kong officials named in latest ‘Panama Papers’ releases

home_140402_cropJISHOU, HUNAN — The investigative team behind the massive “Panama Papers” data dump have uncovered more associates of present or former Chinese government officials with offshore shell accounts. Also named are a present minister in the Hong Kong government and a Hong Kong university.

Previously, eight people with ties to former or present Politburo members — including the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping — were revealed to have extensive offshore business assets.

Named in the latest report is Li Pak-tam, son-in-law of Jia Qinglin, a former Politburo member who retired in 2013. Li is the owner of a firm listed in the British Virgin Islands, Fung Shing Development Ltd., the South China Morning Post reported.

Jia’s grand-daughter, Jasmine Li, had previously been named as an officer of another offshore shell company

The Post had previously reported that Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University had established an offshore company with millions of dollars in assets, but the university had never mentioned the shell company’s existence in its financial reports. The deal happened while the present HK innovations minister, Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung, was vice president of the university.

Shares in this offshore company were then transferred to another company controlled by a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference — a mainland organization, the Post reported.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has been combing through a huge collection of emails and other documents belonging to the international law firm of Mossack Fonseca, which assists wealthy clients in setting up offshore corporations — shell companies.

So far, at least nine present or former members of China’s Communist government have been revealed to have connections — principally, family connections — with owners of offshore shell companies. While ownership of such companies is not illegal under Chinese law, it enables wealthy Chinese to secretly move substantial funds offshore.

The ICIJ revelations come as President Xi wages an anti-corruption campaign within the Chinese Communist Party, which has led to the arrest and imprisonment of several top officials. Following the Panama Papers exposé, the Party has enacted new measures to limit the business dealings of leaders’ family members.

Chinese media are barred from reporting on the Panama Papers China revelations. In addition, the ICIJ website is blocked, as are several news media websites, including the South China Morning Post.

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