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China Charges Australian Executive With Embezzlement

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- China charged businessman Matthew Ng with embezzlement on Nov. 30, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia said in an e-mailed statement today.

Ng was detained by police in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Nov. 16 and consular officials are assisting the 44-year-old and his family, the Australian department said today. Ng was being held on the suspicion of ’’misappropriation of company assets,’’ the company had said on Nov. 22.

“The Australian Consulate-General in Guangzhou has raised the Australian government’s strong interest in the case at senior levels of the Guangdong government,” it said. The Australian government is monitoring the case “closely to ensure due legal process is followed.”

Ng is a chief executive of Et-China.com International Holdings, the company said. Phone calls to Et-China and the company’s public relations firm weren’t answered.

His case came about eight months after Stern Hu, the Australian executive who led Rio Tinto Group’s China iron ore unit, was sentenced in March by a court in Shanghai to 10 years jail after being found guilty of taking bribes from steel mills and infringing commercial secrets.

The case frayed ties between the two nations, coming after Rio last year rejected a $19.5 billion investment from China and iron ore price talks with Chinese mills stalled.

Today’s statement stressed that the charges Ng faces “relate to embezzlement and are very different to the ones faced by Mr. Hu, which related to bribery and theft of commercial secrets.”

Australian consular officers in Guangzhou will visit him again on Dec. 7 and continue to ’’monitor his welfare,’’ the statement said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Fenner at rfenner@bloomberg.net; Stephanie Wong in Shanghai at Swong139@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bill Austin at billaustin@bloomberg.net

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