New doubts arise on Batie bus financing

By Huang Ge Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/7 23:29:21 Last Updated: 2016/8/8 7:35:33

Modi seeks details on having vehicle on Indian roads

The Transit Elevated Bus had a road test in Qinhuangdao, North China's Hebei Province on August 3. Photo: CFP

The domestically developed Transit Elevated Bus - dubbed Batie - is reportedly facing public doubts about the investment behind the project.

Batie is scheduled to start trial operations on Monday in Qinhuangdao, North China's Hebei Province, media reported over the weekend, citing Song Youzhou, the chief engineer of the vehicle builder.

The elevated, road-straddling superbus project is actually run by a Beijing-based online peer-to-peer lending platform Huaying Kailai and hundreds of branches of the platform across the country are raising money in the name of local government supports for Batie-related Public-Private Partnership projects, The Beijing News reported Saturday.

"Investors must make an appointment with a salesman from Huaying Kailai before they can obtain a detailed introduction to our financial products. Investors are not expected to buy financial products online by themselves," an employee of the company in Beijing who declined to be identified told the Global Times on Sunday.

The employee said the company's office in Dongcheng was closed for the weekend, but the online platform was operating soundly.

"Batie is only one of our investments. Huaying Kailai is also expanding investment in sectors like real estate, roads and bridges as well as agriculture," a customer service employee with the platform who declined to be identified told the Global Times Sunday via a phone call.

Huaying Kailai has been accused of raising money illegally from the public, said media reports. The company has attracted deposits worth billions of yuan, but the number of projects completed by the company only stood at two starting from 2014, with investment not exceeding 200 million yuan ($15.08 million), information from the platform's website showed.

The project has been attracting investors with projected returns rates of 10 percent to 20 percent starting from the end of 2015, said media reports. Some members of the public have questioned whether the company can afford it.

Some investors were worried after hearing rumors about the company and came to its Beijing office in Dongcheng district to get their money, The Beijing News said.

"My wife and I have invested more than 1 million yuan into Huaying Kailai's platform since 2014 with annual returns of 16 percent. But we want to get out money back now after reading negative news about the online platform," an unidentified investor told the Beijing News. The investor said that so far, his family has obtained returns on time.

If Huaying Kailai's investment in Batie involves raising funds from the public or absorbing public deposits, the company's conduct is against the rules and more probes would likely be carried out, Li Junhui, an expert from the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The vehicle builder TEB Technology Development Co has signed cooperation agreements with five cities so far: Qinhuangdao, North China's Tianjin, Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province and Nanyang and Zhoukou in Central China's Henan Province, domestic news portal reported Sunday.

Also, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his nation's road transport ministry to get details about Batie and explore the possibility and feasibility of having it on Indian roads, Indian newspaper the Deccan Chronicle reported on Sunday.

Batie, the world's first vehicle of its kind, attracted lots of attention after it underwent a 300-meter road test on Tuesday in Qinhuangdao.

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