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April 16, 2012

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Woman boss missing with millions owed to lenders

POLICE are pursuing a company boss who went missing over the weekend owing about 500 million yuan (US$79.35 million) to private money lenders - the third "disappearing" case involving private lenders in east China in a month.

Zhang Hong, boss of a medical devices company in Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, went missing with her son over the weekend, China Broadcast said yesterday. She had borrowed the money from several hundred private lenders, the radio station said.

Many people who had lent money to Zhang gathered in front of her office on Saturday, but found that all the staff had gone and the doors were locked.

It was discovered that her son had left his school and was also not to be found, the report said.

The lenders, including local residents and business owners, who had given sums from 100,000 yuan to 10 million yuan to Zhang, said she cheated them by making false promises of 5 percent monthly interest and a bonus by the end of every year, according to the report.

"I am overwhelmed by regret now, because I collected a total of 1.18 million yuan, which is all my savings as well as my mother's and sisters', to lend to Zhang," said a woman surnamed Gao.

Gao said a friend introduced her to Zhang two years ago. She lent Zhang 50,000 yuan at first and received 2,500 yuan interest every month, so she told family members to also lend money to Zhang.

Zhang, who is around 40 years old, claimed that she owned a lot of real estate in Nanjing and drove a BMW, said a private lender surnamed Liang who had lent her 50,000 yuan.

"Zhang paid interest on time at the beginning and often invited the major lenders to eat in a local luxury restaurant, so she enjoyed a good reputation among private lenders," Liang said.

Some lenders found that Zhang began failing to pay back on time from last December, but she held a meeting of all the lenders and asked them for more money to help her through a difficulty.

"She asked us to give more money to 'save ourselves'," another lender surnamed Ma said. Ma lent Zhang 50,000 yuan at the beginning and gave 100,000 yuan more after the meeting, but had received nothing in return.

Before she disappeared, Zhang said she would sell her company's shares to the lenders to raise money to open a network company and managed to collect another batch of money, Ma said.

The lenders found they were unable to get in touch with Zhang's staff from early last week.

When they found that Zhang had gone missing, they called the police.

Police found that Zhang had sold all her real estate and cars and had divorced her husband.

In a similar case, Gu Chunfang, 40, a trading company owner dubbed the "most beautiful boss" because of her looks, was detained in Shanghai early this month after disappearing owing about 400 million yuan to private lenders in Changshu, another city in Jiangsu Province.

In the same city, a restaurant boss Zhou Siyang ran off at the end of February after he had borrowed 230 million yuan from banks and unknown amounts from the private sector.

He is still missing.


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