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Chinese Businessman Presumed Dead in French Helicopter Crash

Chinese businessman Lam Kok, his 12-year-old son and two other people are presumed to have died when the helicopter they were traveling in plunged into a river in France’s southwestern Bordeaux region on Dec. 20.

Police were searching the Dordogne River for the bodies, Anne-Cecile Dumonteil, deputy prosecutor at Libourne court, said by phone yesterday. Kok, head of tea and real-estate company Brilliant Group, had just bought the Chateau de la Riviere vineyard from James Gregoire, who was giving him an aerial tour of the property from the helicopter, the Agence France-Presse reported today.

Gregoire and an interpreter are also presumed to have died in the crash, according to Dumonteil. The body of Kok’s 12-year-old son was retrieved from the wrecked helicopter early Dec. 21, AFP said.

Kok’s purchase of the 65-hectare estate was the biggest Chinese investment in Bordeaux property, AFP said, citing the vineyard’s managing director. Brilliant Group, based in Hong Kong, also operates tourism, department store, spa, and hotel businesses.

A call outside business hours to the company’s general line in Kunming, Yunnan province, wasn’t answered.

Liu Xiangyun, Kok’s wife, wasn’t on the flight because she was scared of helicopters, AFP said. She is Brilliant’s chairwoman and described on the company’s website as a well-known female entrepreneur in China.

Kok is a Hong Kong resident as well as a member of the Yunnan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Wen Wei Po newspaper reported today.

Gregoire, former owner of the vineyard, had bought the property a year after the previous owner died in a plane crash, AFP said.

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