Doubts cast over le­git­i­macy of ware­house

China Daily (Canada) - - TIANJIN BLASTS - By XIN­HUA in Tian­jin

The sons of a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cial and a for­mer State com­pany ex­ec­u­tive are top share­hold­ers of a com­pany whose ware­house ex­ploded on Aug 12 in Tian­jin, ex­clu­sive in­ter­views by Xin­hua found.

Xin­hua gained ac­cess to ex­ec­u­tives of Tian­jin Rui­hai In­ter­na­tional Lo­gis­tics Co Ltd, in­clud­ing com­pany head YuXuewei, deputy head­Dong Shex­uan, gen­eral man­ager Zhi Feng and deputy man­agerCaoHai­jun. All are cur­rently in po­lice de­ten­tion.

In­ter­views and cross-check­ing un­cov­ered false own­er­ship.

Li Liang is listed ma­jor share­holder com­pany.

ButYuXuewei, a 41-year-old for­mer ex­ec­u­tive at a State-run chem­i­cal com­pany, con­firmed he was the ac­tual owner and holds 55 per­cent of the shares through Li, who is his cousin .

Dong Shex­uan, a 34-yearold man, holds 45 per­cent of the shares through his school­mate Shu Zheng.

Dong is the son of Dong Pei­jun, a for­mer po­lice chief as of the the for Tian­jin Port who died of can­cer in 2014.

“I hadmy school­mate hold shares for me be­cause of my fa­ther. If the news of me in­vest­ing in a busi­ness leaked, it could have brought a bad in­flu­ence,” Dong told Xin­hua.

Be­fore set­ting up the com­pany in 2012, Dong sold tires, cos­met­ics and wine.

Yu Xuewei, who had been the deputy man­ager of the Tian­jin Branch of China’s State-run Sinochem Group, was trav­el­ing with his fam­ily in He­bei province, when the blasts oc­curred on Aug. 12.

“I met Dong Shex­uan at a din­ner party in 2012. His fa­ther was po­lice chief and he was well con­nected in the port,” Yu told Xin­hua.

Rui­hai’s man­age­ment, in­clud­ing gen­eral man­ager Zhi Feng, who was in­jured in the­blasts, had­worked­forYuat Sinochem be­fore Rui­hai was founded.

Yu said he and Dong planned to cap­i­tal­ize on their con­nec­tions by es­tab­lish­ing a lo­gis­tics com­pany, which they did on Nov 28, 2012.

These con­nec­tions are thought to have fa­cil­i­tated their busi­ness by help­ing them ob­tain var­i­ous fire safety, land, en­vi­ron­men­tal and safety cer­ti­fi­ca­tions.

“My guanxi (net­work of con­nec­tions) is in po­lice and fire. When we needed a fire in­spec­tion, I went to meet with of­fi­cials at the Tian­jin port fire squad. I gave them the files and soon they gave me the ap­praisal,” said Dong.

Dong did not spec­ify whether there was a bribe or of­fi­cial mis­con­duct.

Zhu Lim­ing, deputy head of the plan­ning and land man­age­ment bureau at Tian­jin Bin­hai New Area, which granted the land and con­struc­tion li­cense for the ware­houses, said his bureau “re­ferred to the fire safety doc­u­ments, which had given the green light in terms of whether the ware­house was a safe dis­tance from the residential area”.

China stip­u­lates that ware­houses larger than 550 square me­ters that store dan­ger­ous goods must be 1 kilo­me­ter from ma­jor trans­port hubs and public build­ings. The ware­house was only 560 me­ters away from the Vanke residential com­mu­nity and 630 me­ters from a rail­way sta­tion.

Sus­pi­cion also other doc­u­ments com­pany.

“The first safety ap­praisal com­pany said our ware­houses were too close to the apart­ment build­ing. Then we found another com­pany that got us the doc­u­ments we needed,” Dong said.

Mean­while, from Oc­to­ber 2014 to June 2015, the com­pany han­dled haz­ardous chem­i­cals with­out a li­cense.

“Af­ter the first li­cense ex­pired, we ap­plied for an ex­ten­sion. We did not cease op­er­a­tion be­cause we did not think it was a prob­lem. Many other com­pa­nies have con­tin­ued work­ing with­out a li­cense,” said Yu Xuewei.

The State Coun­cil, China’s Cab­i­net, has set up a panel to in­ves­ti­gate the in­ci­dent, which killed 114 peo­ple, and 64 were miss­ing as of Wed­nes­day. The team will “de­fine the na­ture and grav­ity of the ac­ci­dent, and de­ter­mine li­a­bil­ity”, ac­cord­ing to its state­ment.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors will also ad­vise which pun­ish­ments should be given. sur­rounds from the

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