More relatives of current and former Chinese political leaders have been found to be Hong Kong residents, according to the latest batch of leaked Panama Papers.
11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca were obtained securely from an anonymous source over a year ago by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The data was shared with The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), which enlisted help from other media outlets.
According to Ming Pao, among those named were Li Xiaobing, the daughter of former leader Deng Xiaoping’s sister, and Li’s husband Wallace Yu Yiping. Both were directors of two offshore companies – Water Enterprise Ltd and Tibet 5100 Water Resources Ltd – incorporated in the British Virgin Islands using their Hong Kong identity card numbers.
The leaked files showed Yu’s Hong Kong identity card was issued as early as November 1994, and he held permanent residency in Hong Kong. Yu was born on the mainland and – according to symbols on the card – his reported name has been changed since the first issuance.
Ming Pao reported that Yu and Li are both Canadian passport holders according to Hong Kong Company Registry records.
Yu was also a director of Galaxia Space Management Ltd, which has been unregistered.
No one answered the door as the newspaper’s reporters went to Yu’s address in Tung Chung.
Seven HK residents
It was previously reported that relatives of ten Chinese top political figures have been found to hold offshore companies, according to the Panama Papers. Of the ten, at least seven are either Hong Kong residents, have bought properties in Hong Kong or have business ties to the city.
The Chinese leaders involved were Xi Jinping, Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yunshan, Li Peng, Jia Qinglin, Zeng Qinghong, Tian Jiyun, Hu Yaobang, Mao Zedong and Bo Xilai.
In the latest revelations, Zhang Gaoli’s daughter Cheung Hiu-yin – a name romanised using Cantonese pronunciation – was also found to be a Hong Kong identity card holder. She owns a house at Palm Springs in Yuen Long with her Hong Kong husband Lee Shing-put.
Ming Pao reporters reached out to Cheung at the house but she refused to reveal when he became a Hong Kong resident.
Aside from Jia Qinglin’s granddaughter Jasmine Li, Li’s father Li Pak-tam was also found to be a Hong Kong resident.
According to HK01, the documents showed Li Pak-tam had been living with a woman called Lam Ching Joanna. She has been signing cheques for Li and recently paying annual fees for Li’s offshore companies, which correlated with a rumour that Lam Ching Joanna was a pseudonym for Li’s wife – Jia Qinglin’s daughter Jia Qiang.
It is not illegal for Chinese citizens to open offshore accounts or own offshore companies, but the Communist Party’s constitution bans party officials and family members from profiting from their positions.
The ICIJ’s reports did not give details on how the offshore companies are used, listing only documents and addresses showing ties to the people involved. It noted that there are legitimate uses for offshore companies.