China wealth manager denies taking money

Chinese bank teller counts stacks of Chinese 100-yuan (one hundred yuan) notes at a bank in Huaibei, east China's Anhui province on 12 November 2010Image copyright
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Mr Yang was accused of absconding with 10 billion yuan, which he has since denied

The chairman of a Chinese wealth management company whose disappearance last week sparked alarm has strongly denied taking investors’ money.

Last week Wangzhou Fortune said Yang Weiguo had gone missing and taken 10 billion yuan ($1.5bn; £1bn).

But Mr Yang sent a video and a letter to journalists on Monday saying he had gone for a short personal trip, and rejected the accusations.

Authorities are investigating the case after Wangzhou made a police report.

The firm had released a statement (in Chinese) last Thursday saying that after several days of investigations it could confirm that Mr Yang “has gone missing, and believed to have taken 10 billion yuan”.

It made a public apology, adding that the incident had “happened suddenly and unexpectedly” and that the firm had lodged a report with police in Shanghai.

Wangzhou Fortune had reportedly experienced cashflow problems in recent days. Beijing Youth Daily said the company had about 20,000 investors who put in 2.2 billion yuan.

The news made waves in local media, which ran pieces quoting investors calling for Mr Yang’s return.

‘Stunned and furious’

On Monday Mr Yang contacted journalists at several financial news outlets. In a short video clip he reportedly says: “Hi everyone, it’s me, don’t worry I’m coming back soon.”

He also sent a strongly-worded letter (in Chinese) stating that on 15 April he decided to take a short 10-day holiday and drove to the far western province of Xinjiang.

He said he needed the holiday “so that I could completely relax and clearly think about how to solve several large problems in the current stage of my company’s management”.

Mr Yang acknowledged he failed to tell anyone about his travel plans, but added that he notified two employees telling them to manage themselves for the next few days.

He said he only learnt of the company’s allegations on Sunday as he prepared to return home, and said he was “stunned and furious”.

“The company which I painstakingly managed has in the last few days become unrecognisable, slandering me as ‘taking 10 billion and fleeing’! All the investments have accounts that can be checked, what is this based on?!” he wrote.

He added he was rushing to the nearest police post in Urumqi to co-operate with investigations.

Wangzhou Fortune has yet to respond to his statement.

Mr Yang is also the chairman of the company’s parent firm Wangzhou Group, which states on its website that it has 200 subsidiaries in commerce, vehicles, health, food and beverage, and technology.

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