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December 7, 2013

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Woman denies defrauding 8 victims of 360m yuan

A SHANGHAI woman denied defrauding eight people out of a combined 360 million yuan (US$59 million) when she went on trial in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.

The woman surnamed Zhang was accused of defrauding businessmen and senior officials of state-owned firms through various scams, Southern Metropolis Daily reported yesterday.

She told the court all the money was invested in projects but failed to provide any documentation to support her claims, the report said.

Her German boyfriend, only identified as Robert, was also charged with fraud. The report didn’t state whether he was also a defendant or being tried separately.

Prosecutors said one of the couple’s victims was a diamond retailer surnamed Lin. After gaining Lin’s trust by purchasing some inexpensive products, they took diamonds worth about US$925,800 on consignment.

The duo sold the diamonds to pawn shops and used the money to purchase stocks. They lost it all during the global financial crisis, prosecutors said.

The report said the couple became popular among the upper class in Shenzhen as they lived in several expensive homes, had three luxury cars and took gambling trips to Macau.

Robert was cited as saying Zhang often pretended to be a fund manager who could deliver big returns on investments.

Another victim, the CEO of a Taiwan-based insurance company, had asked Zhang to manage US$16 million, the report said, adding it was never returned.

Prosecutors also told the court she had used five fake identities while living in Shenzhen because she was also wanted by authorities in Shanghai.

Shenzhen police started to investigate her in May 2011 and found she had obtained five illegal homes, the report said.

In 2003, Zhang opened an investment consulting company in Shanghai. One year later, a man claimed she didn’t repay 10 million yuan in earnest money, the report said. Others made similar claims and none had their money returned, the newspaper said.


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