The Province


Michael Ching claims he is not Muyang Cheng


Politicall­y connected property developer Michael Ching states through his lawyer that he is not the same person listed as being wanted in China for corruption

They look alike, have very similar names, and are both related to a former high-ranking member of China’s ruling Communist Party who was expelled for corruption. But are Michael Ching and Muyang Cheng the same man?

Michael Ching, through his representa­tives, denies that he and Muyang Cheng are the same man.

Ching is a prominent Vancouver property developer with strong political connection­s to the Liberal Party of Canada, and often appears at local fundraisin­g events. He also goes by another name, Mo Yeung Ching.

Cheng, 45, is a Chinese fugitive who reportedly fled to Canada in 2000 with millions of dollars of illgotten money. He has been the subject of an Interpol Red Notice since about 2013.

One of Ching’s lawyers told The Province they are of the opinion they are different men. But at the same time, they confirmed their client is somehow related to Cheng’s late father, Cheng Weigao.

The Federal Liberal Party isn’t so sure, and has launched an internal review to find out whether Ching is Cheng, and if any illicit gains have poured into party coffers.

“The Party is taking it seriously in Ottawa, and there are action store view the concern, and that is what is happening now, ”said a well-placed source in the Liberal Party of Canada.

The confusing narrative centres on Beijing’s ongoing efforts to repatriate fugitives living abroad, which began several years ago with a wave of Red Notices issued by Interpol on Beijing’s request. Then last week, in a fresh crackdown dubbed by Beijing as Operation Sky Net, the names and faces of more than two dozen Chinese fugitives wanted on an assortment of alleged corruption charges and believed to be living in Canada were broadcast.

In each instance, Cheng’s grinning face, with its distinctiv­e mole near the right eye, was among the accused. His alleged crime: political corruption (see sidebar on facing page).

The Province first began asking about the man in the Interpol Red Notice back in February. The trail quickly led to Vancouver lawyer Lawrence Wong, who represents Michael Ching, the president of Mo Yeung Internatio­nal Enterprise Ltd., a Richmond-based developmen­t company.

During an interview, Wong said his client is not the same person featured in the Interpol Red Notice. He did confirm, however, that Ching is related to the late Cheng Weigao, the former governor and Communist Party chief of China’s Hebei Province whose career ended in disgrace in 2003 amid allegation­s of corruption, bribery and strong-arming.

Cheng Weigao had one son: his name is Muyang Cheng.

Wong would not comment on the picture of Muyang Cheng that is attached to the Interpol notice. And further questions about his client — including how he is related to Cheng Weigao, whether Ching is a Canadian citizen and whether he has ever changed his name — were referred to David Lunny, another of Ching’s lawyers.

“The Chinese authority was doing this anti-corruption campaign so somehow some old names popped up again,” said Wong. “We take the position that it is a different person … This thing was going on for the past 10 years so we are still at the stage of clarificat­ion as to what is going on with this.”

In a letter to The Province dated Feb., 17, Lunny wrote that the questions, which were sent via email, were “highly intrusive.”

In the letter, Lunny confirmed that Michael Ching also goes by the name Mo Yeung Ching.

“We are authorized to inform you that, in order to protect his (Ching’s) privacy, our client declines to respond to these questions,” the letter read. “This letter it to notify you of our client’s objection to the publicatio­n of any defamatory article or statements.”

Last Friday, Lunny confirmed his office was aware of the latest Chinese government’s anti-corruption notice and repatriati­on efforts.

“While wishing to maintain his privacy, our client denies all allegation­s of wrongdoing,” Lunny wrote in an email. So who is Michael Ching? On paper, Ching is the president, secretary and sole director of Mo Yeung Internatio­nal Enterprise Ltd., which was incorporat­ed in 2000, records show. (The name Mo Yeung Ching is used in the directorsh­ip records).

He lives in a multi-million dollar home in Vancouver and has donated regularly to both the B.C. Liberal party and the Federal Liberal Party of Canada. In 2008, he was mentioned in a speech delivered before the House of Commons by Raymond Chan, then the Liberal MP for Richmond.

The company has developed “over 11 million square feet of real estate projects in Canada, the United States and Asia,” according to its website. Locally, it is behind several large developmen­ts, including the Internatio­nal Trade Centre and River Rock Place, both located in Richmond. The company is also behind Collection 45, a “boutique building” in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourh­ood.

According to its website, the company is also associated with the Zendai Group, a Shanghai-based “private conglomera­te” that specialize­s in asset management, realestate developmen­t and microfinan­ce that manages “over $5-billion” in assets globally, according to its LinkedIn page. Another company listed as an associate company on the website is AuXin Resource, a mining-investment group with interests in the Yukon and Ontario.

Corporate records show that a Mo Yeung Ching was a director of AuXin until August 2013, when a new director was named. Trading records listed on AuXin’s website indicate its stock started trading in 2010 for about 22 cents and it has not traded since March 2013, when shares were traded at just three cents. According to corporate records one of the company’s directors is Stanley Wong, a Vancouver certified public accountant.

The Province contacted Wong last Friday and asked him questions about Mo Yeung Ching. Wong said that he is now listed as director of AuXin, but said that “Mo Yeung Ching is still the president.” Wong said AuXin is a private company and he could not explain why it is not being traded now.

The Province asked Wong if Mo Yeung Ching is Michael Ching, the Vancouver and Richmond developer who has been involved in fundraisin­g with former MP Raymond Chan for the federal Liberal party.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Wong said. “That’s possibly correct. So far what you said.”

The Province asked Wong if he is aware that Michael Ching is believed to be Muyang Cheng, the son of the former Hebei governor Cheng Weigao.

“Well, then I don’t know,” Wong said, with a chuckle. “That part I don’t know, yeah.”

Electoral finance records show that Ching and his company have over the years contribute­d thousands of dollars to both the Liberal Party of Canada and the B.C. Liberal Party. In 2008, Mo Yeung Internatio­nal Enterprise Ltd., donated $300 to the winning campaign of Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, financial records show.

A spokesman for the Federal Liberal Party would not comment on whether Ching is a member of the party, citing privacy considerat­ions. But a well-placed Liberal Party source said unproven allegation­s about Ching have circulated within the party for years, but that they’ve “always been directly refuted by Michael and his lawyer.”

“Michael Ching as far as I know got quite involved around the time of the Trudeau leadership,” the federal Liberal Party source said. He had supported Raymond Chan before that, but most of his support (of the LPC) was after 2012. From a Liberal perspectiv­e, this guy is seemingly quite connected across business and politics in Greater Vancouver.

Financial records of offshore tax haven companies leaked to the Internatio­nal Consortium of Investigat­ive Journalist­s show that a Mo Yeung Ching is associated to an address in Hong Kong and is a director and shareholde­r of an “offshore entity” with links to a number of other offshore companies and clients.

The South China Morning Post reported in 2003 that the former governor Cheng Weigao was widely seen as a close associate of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin.

A commission found Weigao had taken advantage of his position to interfere in ‘government’s administra­tion’ in arranging favours for his son and other parties. Cheng Weigao died in 2010.

The RCMP declined to comment on this story and the Vancouver Police Department said they had no informatio­n to share. Efforts to contact Interpol and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China were unsuccessf­ul. The Chinese embassy in Ottawa referred all queries to the consulate in Vancouver.

China’s deputy consul general to Vancouver, Fan Xiaodong, said China and Canada have been working cooperativ­ely on repatriati­ng Chinese fugitives and those who are involved in serious corruption cases. He said the two countries share similar attitudes toward fighting crime, noting Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said that Canada will not become a paradise for criminals.

Fan denied the two countries have reached any deals on how much each would share on the proceeds of crimes. Of Operation Sky Net, he said the consulate general in Vancouver doesn’t know anything about the Muyang Cheng case.

China’s latest crackdown on corruption has already produced some sensationa­l headlines. Last week, Qu Zhang Mingjie, the mother of Vancouver-based pop star Wanting Qu, was arrested in China on corruption charges. Wanting Qu is the girlfriend of Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.

“The Chinese authority was doing this anti-corruption campaign so somehow some old names popped up again. We take the position that it is a different person ...”

— Vancouver lawyer Lawrence Wong

 ?? — SILVESTER LAW ?? Michael Ching, right, shakes hands with federal Liberal candidate Andrew Leslie, left, as former Richmond MP Raymond Chan looks on at a party fundraisin­g event in Vancouver in January.
— SILVESTER LAW Michael Ching, right, shakes hands with federal Liberal candidate Andrew Leslie, left, as former Richmond MP Raymond Chan looks on at a party fundraisin­g event in Vancouver in January.
 ??  ?? Michael Ching, shown above at a Liberal rally, says he is not Muyang Cheng, shown in an
Interpol poster.
Michael Ching, shown above at a Liberal rally, says he is not Muyang Cheng, shown in an Interpol poster.

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