Panama Papers name families of prominent Chinese politicians

The Panama Papers document leak reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists names family members of eight present or past members of China’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, including the brother-in-law of president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping and a distant relative of the founder of the communist state, Mao Zedong.

The family members mentioned were listed as owners or shareholders in companies registered offshore that are sometimes known as tax shelters, although no impropriety was implied.

Here’s a look at some of the families involved:

Xi Jinping, President and Communist Party Leader
The ICIJ reports state that Deng Jiagui, the husband of President Xi Jinping’s older sister Qi Qiaoqiao, used Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca to open one offshore company in 2004 and another two in 2009.

ICIJ said it was unclear why Deng opened the firms, which were given the fanciful names of Supreme Victory Enterprises Ltd., Best Effect Enterprises Ltd. and Wealth Ming International Ltd. All three companies had been dissolved or become dormant by the time Xi took over as party leader in 2012.

Liu Yunshan, Politburo Standing Committee Member
The reports say the daughter-in-law of the Politburo Standing Committee’s fifth-ranking member of Liu Yunshan was the director and shareholder in a company called Ultra Time Investments Ltd. incorporated with Mossack Fonseca’s help in the British Virgin Islands in 2009.

Liu at the time was head of party propaganda and a member of the Politburo, one rung below the Standing Committee.

Zhang Gaoli, Politburo Standing Committee Member
A son-in-law of Zhang Gaoli, the seventh and lowest-ranking member of the Politburo Standing Committee, was listed as a shareholder in Zennon Capital Management, Sino Reliance Networks Corp. and Glory Top Investments Ltd. All three companies were incorporated through Mossack Fonseca in the British Virgin Islands, one of the most popular offshore tax havens.

The reports did not say when the incorporations took place. Zhang’s last formal positions prior to joining the Politburo Standing Committee had been as the top official in the fast-growing northern port city of Tianjin and in the eastern province of Shandong.

Li Peng, former Premier
Li Xiaolin, a prominent figure in the state power sector and the only daughter of former premier Li Peng, is reported to have used the law firm to acquire Cofic Investments along with her husband. ICIJ said the company was incorporated in 1994 and cited internal e-mails saying it was funded with commissions from the import European industrial equipment into China. Ownership was obscured by the use of bearer certificates that list no names.

Li Xiaolin retired as chief executive of China Power International Development last year in what was seen by some as part of Xi’s moves to uproot leaders’ children from highly visible positions in the state sector.

Zeng Qinghong, former Vice President
Considered the consummate Chinese political insider, former vice president Zeng Qinghong was linked to a company named China Cultural Exchange Association Ltd. that was registered by his brother Zeng Qinghuai in Samoa in 2006 using Mossack Fonseca’s services.

Zeng Qinghong was still in office at the time.

Hu Yaobang, former Communist Party Secretary General 
Hu Dehua, a son of revered former secretary general Hu Yaobang was listed as shareholder, director and beneficial owner of Fortalent International Holdings Ltd. The company was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2003, 14 years after his father’s death.

The elder Hu was considered a leading reformist and his political demotion and sudden passing in 1989 helped spark that year’s massive student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Mao Zedong, People’s Republic of China founder
The reports say Chen Dongsheng, a grandson-in-law of the founder of the communist state Mao Zedong, incorporated a company called Keen Best International Ltd. in the British Virgin Islands in 2011, and was its sole director and shareholder. Chen also heads a life insurance company and an art auction house.

Mao led the People’s Republic of China from its founding in 1949 until his death in 1976. During most of that time, he waged unrelenting war on international capitalism and led China into increasing isolation from the international financial system and global society in general. – Associated Press

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