Tycoon’s double life
REFERRING TO A FORMER BUSINESS PARTNER who he hinted had tried to take his life and who was later executed for another murder, the tycoon Liu Han once said: “My conclusion is, do no evil or you will be punished in this life.” Here comes his moment. Liu, along with 35 others, is being prosecuted for allegedly organizing and leading a criminal syndicate, committing dozens of serious crimes in more than a decade, including the homicides of nine people, some in broad daylight.
The charges against Liu and his criminal empire, the biggest that has been busted in recent years, are jawdropping. They include murder, gun-running, bribery, blackmail and fraud.
Should the charges be proven in court, Liu, the former chairman of Hanlong Group, who once boasted to the Wall Street Journal that he had never lost and never would, is about to lose badly.
That the investigation took more than 10 months and required the collaboration of police authorities in three provinces and the direct involvement of the Ministry of Public Security, indicates both the scope and complexity of the case.
It is a shocking indication of how problematic the local political biosphere is that Liu, a member of the Sichuan’s Standing Committee of the People’s Political Consultative Conference, is being prosecuted for being an underworld mogul.
Liu was elected to the local political advisory body for three consecutive terms, given dozens of honorary titles, and acquired “super energy” for dictating the appointment of local officials.
That begs the question, how did Liu and his men manage to escape the criminal probes unscathed, emerging stronger each time over the past decade?
Money had a role in Liu’s rise from being a notorious local bully to a political dignitary. Three people from the local judiciary have been named as providing cover for Liu’s alleged criminal activities. But those officials are too junior to have escorted Liu into the provincial political club. It took behind-the-scenes deals in Chengdu, or even beyond Sichuan, for Liu to become a member. Liu has reportedly even bribed his way to Beijing. But who extended umbrellas of protection for him? This is a bigger question than that about the outcome of the ongoing court proceedings.
Dismantling Liu’s network is easy. But without ferreting out his patrons, there is no guarantee others will not take his place some day.