Media expose Zhou Bin’s ‘white gloves’

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-2-27 23:58:04

Media outlets in China continue to reveal, with unusual depth and boldness, that wealthy businessman Zhou Bin, 42,   secretly built his empire through "powerful government connections" and was allegedly involved in several major corruption cases. 

In a Wednesday report titled "White Glove" of Zhou Bin Looms Behind Abandonment of Public Housing, The Beijing News revealed that Zhou's college roommate and proxy in oil field deals, Mi Xiaodong, was also behind a public housing project in Beijing. Mi was detained by disciplinary organizations last October.

The term "white glove," refers to someone who serves as the legal front of an illegal business, because white gloves are often used to cover dirty hands. The report described how Zhou, through Mi, acquired the Nankou State Farm neighborhood renovation project, a key affordable housing program in Beijing, and transferred the project to professional real estate companies for profit.

In a separate report on Tuesday, China Business Journal reported that Zhou was involved in the corruption case of Ding Xuefeng, former mayor of Lüliang, Shanxi Province. Ding is currently being probed for raising funds in 2012 to "purchase" his post.

China Business Journal also reported that Li Dongsheng, the fallen vice-minister of public security, was involved in Ding's case but did not provide details.

Zhou was also said to have business connections with Liu Han, a gangster billionaire who was recently prosecuted for running organized crime in Sichuan. Liu allegedly purchased projects from Zhou in 2002 at an above-market price in an effort to "maintain connections," The Beijing News reported on Feburary 21. Zhou has not only involved his college friend but also used his parents-in-law as fronts for his businesses.

Caixin, a financial magazine, reported in November last year that Zhou's mother-in-law, Zhan Minli, served as the lead shareholder of at least nine companies in Beijing, covering various fields such as energy, property management and investment consulting.

One of the companies, Beijing Zhongxu Yangguang Petroleum and Natural Gas Technology, where Zhou served as the chairman in 2010, signed huge deals with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which is quite rare for a newly founded private company.

Zhou's mother-in-law also serves as one of the main investors of Dadu River Hydropower Station in Sichuan Province, which boasts an annual income of 900 million yuan ($146.85 million). Another investor in the station, Wu Bing, who is suspected to be another of Zhou's white gloves, was detained in August last year, reported Caixin.

"It is obvious that Zhou's success was based on corruption as he amassed huge wealth through his 'powerful government connections.' His success came from his 'protection umbrella,' which interferes with resources allocation and local economies. And that is the core of the problems and the most difficult part of China's reform," read a critique by China Youth Daily on Thursday.

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