Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s extended family has controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion, the New York Times reported, citing corporate and regulatory records and unidentified people familiar with the family’s investments.
Among them is a holding in the name of Wen’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, in Ping An Insurance Co. that was valued at $120 million in 2007, the newspaper reported, citing public records, government-issued identity cards and an ownership trail to three investment entities. Cecile Zhang, a public relations official at Ping An, said she couldn’t immediately comment, and Ping An spokesman Sheng Ruisheng didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone.
Wen’s son, Winston, founded private equity firm New Horizon Capital, which has returned about $430 million to investors, a fourfold profit, since it began operations in 2005, the newspaper reported, citing SBI Holdings, a unit of Softbank Corp. Winston Wen has handed over day-to-day operations of the fund, according to the report. Horizon Capital didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
“Relevant press reports are intended to tarnish China’s image and have ulterior motives,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a briefing in Beijing today.
Wen’s wife, Zhang Beili, has through her management of state diamond companies helped relatives build a billion-dollar portfolio of investments in insurance, technology and real estate ventures, the newspaper reported.
The New York Times found no holdings in Premier Wen’s name and no evidence that he used his political clout to influence the holdings, the report said.
After the story was published the Chinese government blocked access to the New York Times’s Chinese-language website in China and intermittently to its English-language website, the newspaper reported in a separate article.
Asked why the newspaper’s websites were blocked, Hong said China governs the Internet “according to laws and regulations.”
— With assistance by Kevin Hamlin