Ex-staffers of fugitive Guo plead guilty to loan fraud
Three former executives of fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining loans and banker’s acceptances — a type of short-term debt — during a trial in Kaifeng, Henan province, on Wednesday.
The three defendants, Zhang Xincheng, Guo Lijie and Xiao Yanling, who worked for Henan Yuda Real Estate Co, controlled by Guo Wengui, confessed to fraudulently obtaining loans and banker’s acceptances over 44 times from seven banks by registering shell corporations, forging contracts and employing fake investment projects from 2008 to 2015.
Nearly 1.5 billion yuan ($221 million) was stolen through the transactions, prosecutors said, adding that while most of the money was returned, 212 million yuan was still missing.
Some of the money was used to operate Beijing Pangu Investment Inc, also controlled by Guo Wengui, while some was transferred overseas, prosecutors said.
“It was Guo Wengui who asked me to secure the loans and banker’s acceptances. I had little legal awareness and obeyed his orders blindly,” Zhang, former financial director of the company, said in court.
Guo Lijie, the company’s former deputy manager, and Xiao, the ex-deputy head of the company’s financial department, also pleaded guilty to the charges. “I felt sorry and regretted a lot what I did, which not only made me lose my freedom, but also harmed my family. I’d like to accept the punishment,” said a weeping Guo Lijie.
Lawyers of the three defendants said their clients played small roles in the schemes, suggesting they deserve lenient treatment.
“Most of the money fraudulently obtained has been paid back, and it didn’t cause the banks great losses,” Zhang’s attorney said.
The Kaifeng Intermediate People’s Court posted information about the trial, including photos and videos, via its official account on Twitterlike Sina Weibo. More than 60 residents, such as relatives of the defendants, journalists and political advisers, attended the hearing.
The court said it will announce verdicts at a later date.
It was the second set of trials related to Guo Wengui, who fled overseas about three years ago.
In June, three former employees of Beijing Pangu were given prison terms in a court in Dalian, Liaoning province, for fraudulently obtaining loans and foreign currency valued at 3.2 billion yuan from the Agricultural Bank of China in the name of the company.