China Charges Former Hanlong Chairman on Crime Groups Claim

The former chairman of Sichuan Hanlong Group, whose bid for Australian miner Sundance Resources Ltd. collapsed last April, has been charged with organizing Mafia-like crime groups.

Liu Han and 35 others were charged with committing 21 crimes including creating, leading and joining Mafia-like organizations, and intentionally injuring others, the official Xinhua News Agency reported today, citing the prosecutors’s office of Xianning city in the eastern province of Hubei.

The charges are the first official news on Liu Han since state media reported last March he had been detained. He was ranked the 492nd richest person in China with a fortune of $650 million, according to a list of the wealthiest 1,000 people in the country published in September by the Shanghai-based Hurun Report.

For more than a decade, Liu Han is suspected of involvement in Mafia-like activities, including killing, injuring and detaining people, Xinhua said. That led to the deaths of nine people, including five who were gunned down, it said.

The prosecution centers around the murder of three people in January 2009 in Sichuan’s Guanghan city, Xinhua said. Liu Wei, the younger brother of Liu Han, was one of the suspects in that case. Liu Han helped his brother go into hiding afterward, meeting with him many times and giving him millions of yuan in cash, Xinhua said.

Central Committee

Under the orders of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, police in the Beijing, Hubei and Sichuan provinces worked on the investigation since March of last year, it said.

Born in 1965, Liu is the son of teachers from Guanghan. Liu told the Wall Street Journal in December 2010 he made his money speculating on steel pipes while still in his 20s, parlaying that into a fortune trading on China’s newly created and chaotic markets in the early 1990s. He arrived for the meeting in a Ferrari and wearing a mink coat, the newspaper reported.

Liu was also chairman of publicly traded Sichuan Jinlu Group Co., Xinhua said. His brother Liu Wei was also an entrepreneur and had carried the Olympic torch during its relay in the city in 2008, according to Xinhua.

Phone calls to the offices of Sichuan Jinlu and Sichuan Hanlong rang unanswered today.

Hanlong’s overseas purchase of public companies began in 2009. The company spent $200 million to take control of Perth-based Moly Mines Ltd. and made a commitment to help procure about $500 million in funding to develop the Australian company’s Spinifex Ridge molybdenum and copper project.

If the $1.2 billion bid for Sundance had been successful, it would have given Hanlong control of the Mbalam iron ore project that straddles the Republic of Congo and Cameroon.

— With assistance by Henry Sanderson

(Updates with attempts to contact companies in ninth paragraph.)
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