Former execs accuse Guo Wengui of loan fraud, plead guilty

By Bai Tiantian in Kaifeng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/13 0:08:39

Loans worth 1.5b yuan transferred to Guo’s company: witness’ testimony

Three former employees of fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui pleaded guilty on Wednesday at a court in Kaifeng, Central China's Henan Province, and testified that Guo orchestrated loan and bill fraud.

The trial started at 8:30 am Wednesday morning at the Kaifeng Intermediate People's Court when it was broadcast live on the court's Sina Weibo account.

Zhang Xincheng, Guo Lijie and Xiao Yanling, all former senior staff of Guo's Henan Yuda Real Estate Company, admitted to assisting Guo in loan and bill fraud.

Guo Lijie appeared to be related to Guo Wengui. In one of her testimonies, she referred to Guo Wengui as her uncle.

Zhang, 51, the company's former Chief Financial Officer, told the court that he and his

colleagues had been setting up shell companies and fabricating contracts and projects to help acquire loans and bills from local banks.

Zhang said they had received nearly 1.5 billion yuan ($220 million) from 44 loans. He said that the money had been transferred to Guo Wengui's Beijing Pangu Investment Company and other firms. Some had been used to pay off the debt while others were transferred to overseas companies controlled by Guo Wengui.

He said Guo Wengui proposed the idea of applying for bank loans in Henan as early as 2008.

He told the court that Guo had orchestrated the defrauding of loans via the phone conversations he said he overheard between his supervisor Ma Cheng and Guo Wengui.

"Ma usually reported to Guo Wengui at night. I was usually present. Sometimes, Ma would intentionally use a speaker phone to talk to the boss. I heard Guo Wengui arrange these things with Ma," Zhang said.

Guo Wengui was not present at the trial. He fled China in 2014 and currently resides in the US.

Ma was not tried at Wednesday's trial. The Xinhua News Agency reported earlier that Ma will be tried separately.

The court played a video of Ma's deposition. Ma, 51, said he took care of Guo Wengui's financial affairs.

"Guo Wengui told me to register some shell companies, which will make the signing of contracts and fund management more convenient. But I felt there were legal risks and was afraid. I then reported to Guo one more time, and he told me to do as he said," Ma said in his deposition video.

Of the money fraudulently obtained from seven banks, more than 212 million yuan has yet to be recovered.

'Ignorance of the law'

All three defendants expressed regret over their involvement and the harm they had caused to their families. Guo Lijie and Xiao were seen weeping in court.

Zhang said he got caught in this predicament because of his ignorance of the law.

"I blindly followed the orders of my boss Guo Wengui and my supervisor Ma Cheng. My role in this is minimal. I have cooperated in the investigation. I ask the court for leniency and an opportunity to rectify the situation," Zhang said in his final statement.

Lawyers for the three also said that the defendants were simply following Guo's orders and were only accessories to the crime.

The trial adjourned at around 10:50 am. The verdict will be announced at a still undisclosed time.

The case is the second in a series of court proceedings related to Guo Wengui.

In June, three members of Guo's Beijing Pangu Investment Company were sent to prison for illegally obtaining loans and foreign currency.

Company senior executive Lü Tao was sentenced to two years and three months in jail, while two others, Xie Honglin and Yang Ying, were each sentenced to two years in prison suspended for three years by the People's Court of Xigang District in Dalian.

Newspaper headline: Former execs accuse tycoon of loan fraud, plead guilty

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