The Chinese public security agents reportedly abducted a Chinese billionaire with connections to top Beijing leaders from the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong and taken to the mainland, the media reported quoting two people familiar with the investigation.
As Chinese President Xi Jingping’s corruption crackdown ensnared a growing number of tycoons, there were many rich businessmen from the mainland who resided at the luxury hotel’s serviced apartment block in Hong Kong in recent years and Xiao Jianhua, a financier with links to the family of Mr Xi, China’s president, was one of several such businessmen.
Because Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous territory that has its own police and legal system, they hoped they were beyond the reach of China’s feared public security forces. According to the former British colony’s mini-constitution, Chinese law enforcement agencies are not allowed to operate in Hong Kong.
With stakes in banks, insurers and real estate developers, the Tomorrow Group is a low-profile but influential holding company based in Beijing and Mr Xiao owns it and is one of China’s richest men.
His personal wealth is estimated be at $6bn, according to the Hurun Report, which analyses the fortunes of China’s richest people.
Coming after the abduction in 2015 of five booksellers who published works that criticised Chinese leaders and made explosive allegations about their misdemeanours, his disappearance will add to fears that Hong Kong is losing its autonomy.
One person familiar with the investigation told local media that “five or six plain-clothed Chinese public security agents” accosted Mr Xiao in his Hong Kong waterfront apartment at around 1am on Friday and then took him and two of his bodyguards to the mainland.
CCTV footage of Mr Xiao being led away by the Chinese security agents was provided to the Hong Kong police by the Four Seasons. Mr Xiao is normally followed everywhere by a group of female bodyguards. Mr. Xiao appeared to go with them willingly once they all left his room, the person added and there was no scuffle in the hallway or elevator although it is unclear what happened inside the room where Mr Xiao was living.
While asking his family members to withdraw a request they had made to the Hong Kong police for assistance, Mr Xiao called his family later and informed them he had been taken by mainland Chinese public security agents but that he was fine, sources reportedly said.
Mr Xiao has a diplomatic passport issued by Antigua and Barbuda and holds Canadian citizenship but was born in China.
It is unclear why he was taken.
Mr. Xiao was overseas for medical treatment and would return “soon”, said a statement purportedly from Mr Xiao and posted on the WeChat account of the Tomorrow Group, published on Tuesday.
He denied he had been “abducted to the mainland”, in the statement which was subsequently deleted by censors. He was protected by the Canadian consulate and Hong Kong law and he was a Canadian citizen and Hong Kong permanent resident.
(Adapted from CNBC)