Sichuan ty­coon ac­cused of crim­i­nal en­ter­prise

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA -

Edi­tor’s note: Liu Han, a min­ing ty­coon in Sichuan prov­ince, and 35 pur­ported gang mem­bers were charged with killing nine people, as well as with black­mail, il­le­gal de­ten­tion and other crimes, by the Xianning People’s Procu­ra­torate in Hubei prov­ince on Thurs­day. The fol­low­ing ar­ti­cle from Xin­hua News Agency de­tails the al­leged crimes.

Ru­mors have cir­cu­lated since last March that min­ing ty­coon Liu Han had dis­ap­peared.

Liu was elected po­lit­i­cal ad­viser in Sichuan prov­ince three times in a row and has more than 20 hon­orary ti­tles. His best-known char­i­ta­ble act was the build­ing of a ru­ral el­e­men­tary school com­plex that with­stood the dev­as­tat­ing 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

He is chair­man of the board of Han­long Group, the big­gest pri­vate en­ter­prise in Sichuan, and of the listed Jinlu Group. He owns sub­sidiary com­pa­nies in­volved in elec­tric­ity, en­ergy, fi­nance, min­ing, real es­tate and se­cu­ri­ties. Es­ti­mates put his worth in the tens of bil­lions of yuan.

The Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity or­dered po­lice in Bei­jing, Hubei and Sichuan to in­ves­ti­gate Liu in March last year, and bring to jus­tice the al­leged leader of a Mafia-style crim­i­nal group.

The news of the pros­e­cu­tions has sent tremors through Sichuan’s po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness cir­cles.

Liu’s case first at­tracted at­ten­tion with a mur­der case on Jan 10, 2009, in Guang­han, Sichuan. At an open-air tea­house in the down­town area, sev­eral men got out of a car, fired at least 10 shots and killed three people be­fore es­cap­ing in the same car. Two pedes­tri­ans were in­jured.

The two sus­pects, Yuan Shaolin and Zhang Donghua, were soon cap­tured and named Liu Wei, Liu Han’s brother, as the mas­ter­mind of the killing. By then, Liu Wei had al­ready ab­sconded and be­came the most wanted man by po­lice.

Liu Wei was boss of Guang­han Yiyuan In­dus­trial Corp and a pop­u­lar en­tre­pre­neur and phi­lan­thropist; and even a torch­bearer for the Bei­jing Olympics in Au­gust 2008.

How­ever, to those who knew him, Liu Wei was a ruth­less un­der­world king­pin who con­trolled gam­bling, loan shark­ing and con­struc­tion projects. Chen Fuwei, one of the men slain in the tea­house, was Liu’s sworn en­emy.

The po­lice re­ceived tips on Liu Wei’s where­abouts from time to time in the en­su­ing four years, but he slipped away each time, thanks to his big brother, Liu Han, they said.

Liu Han was born in 1965. In the early 1990s, he and Liu Wei ran gam­bling cen­ters in Guang­han. At that time, the broth­ers mus­tered a gang of lo­cal thugs and vagrants.

In 1993, they openly broke a seal on prop­er­ties that had been seized by the court and used guns against law en­forcers. The same year, Liu Han fraud­u­lently ob­tained a loan that he used to do busi­ness be­fore his for­tune be­gan to ac­cu­mu­late.

In 1998, one of Liu Han’s com­pa­nies waded into a real es­tate de­vel­op­ment project in Mianyang, Sichuan’s sec­ond­largest city. Af­ter a con­fronta­tion with vil­lagers over de­mo­li­tion com­pen­sa­tion, Tang Xian­bing, a se­cu­rity guard with Liu Han’s com­pany, stabbed and killed Xiong Wei, the leader of the pro­test­ers.

“Noth­ing hap­pened to me af­ter the killing, and that made me bolder and more un­scrupu­lous,” Tang later con­fessed to po­lice. “I would do any­thing for the com­pany, even mur­der. I was fear­less.”

Silenced by the mur­der, the vil­lagers made way for the property project.

Five days af­ter the killing of Xiong Wei, Liu Han or­dered Zeng Jian­jun, one of his hench­men, to kill ri­val gang boss Zhou Zheng in Guang­han, ac­cord­ing to the au­thor­i­ties.

In Fe­bru­ary 1999, Wang Yongcheng, an­other gang boss in Mianyang, threat­ened to blow up Liu Han’s com­pany build­ing.

Days later, Wang was gunned down by a shooter al­legedly sent by one of Liu Han’s lack­eys, Sun Hua­jun.

In Septem­ber 2000, Liu Wei in­structed his men to kill Liang Shiqi, an old neighbor whose aunt had raised Liu Han as her own, au­thor­i­ties said. Liu Wei al­legedly or­dered the killing out of a sus­pi­cion that Liang had pock­eted his “dog mind­ing fees”.

In May 2002, Liu Han’s body­guards Qiu De­feng and Huan Lizhu pro­voked a brawl in a re­cre­ation cen­ter in Chengdu, cap­i­tal of Sichuan. One per­son was killed and many in­jured.

Qiu was later sen­tenced to four years in prison. The other killers walked free.

Liu Han was soon es­tab­lished as a “king­pin” in Guang­han and Mianyang. Some of his vic­tims were forced to leave their homes in fear of his gang.

More than 100 mem­bers of the pub­lic were made to suf­fer by the group, the au­thor­i­ties said.

In 2008, Chen Fuwei, boss of an­other Guang­han gang, was re­leased from prison, threat­en­ing to take re­venge on the Liu broth­ers. In re­sponse, Liu Wei al­legedly called in Wen Xiangzhuo and Kuang Xiaop­ing and told them to “get rid of Chen”.

The killing took place in broad day­light on Jan 10, 2009.

Af­ter­ward, Liu Han al­legedly ar­ranged for Liu Wei to es­cape and lob­bied for his in­no­cence. Liu Han met with his younger brother many times since then, giv­ing him mil­lions of yuan.

Ev­i­dence col­lected in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion show Liu Han’s gang in­volved in dozens of se­ri­ous crim­i­nal of­fenses, in­clud­ing homi­cides, as­saults and il­le­gal de­ten­tions, over more than 10 years. There have been at least nine deaths, five of which were the re­sult of gun­fire. Rise to riches

Liu Han al­legedly pro­tected his busi­ness with his gang and funded his gang from his busi­ness, and thus en­gi­neered his dizzy­ing as­cent into the realm of the su­per-rich.

In March 1997 when Liu set up the Han­long Group in Mianyang, he re­port­edly re­cruited hatchet men in the name of se­cu­rity guards. He al­legedly had Liu Wei pur­chase weapons, and they built an un­der­ground ar­se­nal in Guang­han.

When the gang was busted in 2013, po­lice con­fis­cated three grenades, 20 guns, 677 bul­lets, 2,163 shot­gun car­tridges and more than 100 knives.

Liu’s syn­di­cate was ex­tremely hi­er­ar­chi­cal, with him be­ing the head. Large num­bers of thugs were at his dis­posal.

He wanted fierce fighters, and as long as they fought for the “or­ga­ni­za­tion”, the or­ga­ni­za­tion cov­ered for their crimes.

Ac­cord­ing to Liu’s rules, gang­sters should claim no in­volve­ment with Han­long if caught by the po­lice. Any­one who re­vealed the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s se­crets was se­verely pun­ished.

Those who hes­i­tated to kill were ex­pelled, while mur­der­ers like Tang Xian­bing were pro­moted to man­age­rial po­si­tions with an­nual salaries of 100,000 yuan ($16,400).

Af­ter Sun Hua­jun and Miao Jun al­legedly killed Wang Yongcheng, Liu Han ar­ranged their es­cape, and re­warded Sun with a Cadil­lac, an Audi and more than 300,000 yuan. Miao Jun re­ceived 600,000 yuan.

With car­rots and sticks, Liu es­tab­lished ab­so­lute author­ity in the gang. Blood cleared the path for his businesses. His wealth snow­balled.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, af­ter killing Zhou Zheng in 1998, Liu Han and Liu Wei mo­nop­o­lized gam­bling and loan-shark­ing in Guang­han. Their dom­i­nance ex­panded to sand ex­trac­tion, con­struc­tion and build­ing ma­te­rial mar­kets in and around Guang­han.

The slaugh­ter of Xiong Wei and Wang Yongcheng helped clear the way for real es­tate de­vel­op­ment in Mianyang. Liu won ten­der for lu­cra­tive projects such as the Mianyang air­port and Han­long Bridge. He ac­quired the Forgood Dis­tillery Co be­low mar­ket price.

In 2000, Liu moved Han­long Group’s head­quar­ters from Mianyang to Chengdu, the provin­cial cap­i­tal, reach­ing out to more sec­tors. When his or­ga­ni­za­tion ze­roed in on a project, other bid­ders backed off.

In­ter­viewed by The Wall Street Jour­nal in 2010, Liu said he “has al­ways been a win­ner, never lost”.

Since 2000, vi­o­lence played less and less a part in his gang’s deal­ings. The fear had al­ready been spread. Its job was done. Liu Han and his gang dom­i­nated lo­cal pol­i­tics and the econ­omy by in­tim­i­da­tion.

Liu and his Han­long Group med­dled in and mo­nop­o­lized many in­dus­tries. His busi­ness em­pire was backed by men­ace. Ev­i­dence shows that he and his gang have ac­cu­mu­lated enor­mous wealth in property, min­ing, and elec­tric­ity, through loan shark­ing and stock mar­ket ma­nip­u­la­tion, by il­le­gal merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions, among other means.

They con­trolled more than 70 com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing two listed ones, and four based over­seas. They have swin­dled loans worth 4.6 bil­lion yuan; taken shares in over­seas gam­bling com­pa­nies; and made $29.6 mil­lion by tak­ing main­land cit­i­zens to gam­ble in Ma­cao.

Liu’s crim­i­nal em­pire has amassed nearly 40 bil­lion yuan of as­sets and hun­dreds of cars, in­clud­ing Rolls-Royces, Bent­leys and Fer­raris.

Liu Han and his ac­com­plices spent their il­le­gal gains on firearms, knives and ve­hi­cles. He awarded bonuses to the lieu­tenants who did his evil bid­ding, gave them houses, money and drugs. He bought po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence and built a “pro­tec­tive um­brella” through bribery. ‘Pro­tec­tive um­brella’

Along­side the Liu broth­ers in the dock are three for­mer lo­cal po­lit­i­cal and le­gal of­fi­cials: Liu Xue­jun, for­mer po­lit­i­cal com­mis­sar of the Deyang pub­lic se­cu­rity bureau’s crim­i­nal po­lice con­tin­gent; Lyu Bin, di­rec­tor of Deyang pub­lic se­cu­rity bureau’s equip­ment and fi­nance depart­ment; and Liu Zhong­wei, deputy chief pros­e­cu­tor of the people’s procu­ra­torate in Shi­fang city.

Ac­cord­ing to Liu Wei, aside from fi­nan­cial fa­vors, he would also ac­com­mo­date the trio at his own club where the four would do drugs and party to­gether. In re­turn, Liu Xue­jun buried case files. Liu Xue­jun also ran in­ter­fer­ence af­ter homi­cides, while Liu Zhong­wei and Lyu Bin pro­vided firearms and am­mu­ni­tion.

The Liu broth­ers forged a so­phis­ti­cated net­work of crooked of­fi­cials through bribery, help­ing with pro­mo­tions and pro­vid­ing drugs. In­ves­ti­ga­tions were in­ter­rupted, ev­i­dence was de­stroyed and ab­surdly light penal­ties were dished out.

For ex­am­ple, in May 2003, Sun Hua­jun, a mem­ber of Liu Han’s cir­cle, was ar­rested by the po­lice for il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of firearms. He was set free 15 days af­ter his ar­rest.

Liu Han be­came widely con­nected to govern­ment of­fi­cials in his search for an ever-more pow­er­ful “um­brella”.

“Liu Han is ex­tremely gen­er­ous when deal­ing with govern­ment of­fi­cials. He is will­ing to pay, and he knows how to cater to their like,” said right-hand man Sun.

“Liu Han would take me to dine with them, and of­fer them gifts such as gold or jade worth even mil­lions of yuan,” said Liu’s ex-wife, Yang Xue. “Some­times he would de­lib­er­ately lose when gam­bling to bribe them.”

Yang Xue is be­ing pros­e­cuted in a sep­a­rate case.

Liu Han’s con­nec­tions ex­tended even to Bei­jing, ac­cord­ing to Yang and other core mem­bers of the gang.

He gained ac­cess to top-rank­ing of­fi­cials when he was elected to the stand­ing com­mit­tee of the Sichuan provin­cial com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese People’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence, and spent an enor­mous amount try­ing to bribe them.

Liu and mem­bers ob­tained a va­ri­ety of po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions. Sun, for ex­am­ple, was a deputy to the Sichuan provin­cial People’s Congress.

Liu Han’s pow­er­ful con­nec­tions gave him a cer­tain amount of con­trol over lo­cal govern­ment ap­point­ments and pro­mo­tions.

In 2000, he pro­posed a tourist project at Mount Si­gu­ni­ang in Xiao­jin county, but the plan was re­jected by Ge, a county chief. Ge was swiftly trans­ferred away from Xiao­jin, and Liu Han’s project got un­der­way.

“Liu Han has money, con­nec­tions, guns and lieu­tenants will­ing to kill for him. Ev­ery­one is afraid of him. Once he is of­fended, you ei­ther die or lose your job,” said Wen Xiangzhuo, a mem­ber of Liu’s gang.

For more than 10 years, Liu Han’s bloc has in­tim­i­dated Sichuan so­ci­ety. Even now, as po­lice in­ves­ti­gated in Sichuan, people with in­side knowl­edge were re­luc­tant to talk.

Dur­ing a meet­ing on po­lit­i­cal and le­gal af­fairs last month, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping or­dered law en­force­ment of­fi­cers to “carry the sword of equal­ity and scales of jus­tice” and to de­fend those prin­ci­ples how­ever they could.

It took a year of painstak­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der the di­rect com­mand of the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity be­fore the gang was bro­ken and its key mem­bers seized.

With the case now be­fore the courts, the truth about the real Liu Han be­hind the bil­lion­aire fa­cade awaits fi­nal ex­po­sure.

XIN­HUA

Po­lice dis­play weapons al­legedly owned by min­ing ty­coon Liu Han (left) and his brother Liu Wei, who are al­leged to have been part of a Mafia-style gang. Prose­cu­tors in Hubei charged the Liu broth­ers on Thurs­day with crimes that in­clude in­ten­tional homi­cide, in­jury and il­le­gal de­ten­tion. Thirty-four oth­ers also stood trial on re­lated charges.

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