How to hide $53m: Mogul used mother and son’s finance firm
26 Nov 2019

An Auckland finance firm and its mother and son owners can now be revealed as the company and pair who failed to report $53.4 million of suspicious transactions from a Chinese-Canadian mogul accused of running a $200m pyramid scheme.

Jiaxin Finance Limited, Fuqin Che and her son Qiang Fu, also known as Michael Fu, were found guilty on Friday of all four charges the company and the family faced.

Today, the Herald can reveal their identities after an interim suppression order lapsed at 4pm.

Jiaxin Finance, the 40-year-old Fu and the 65-year-old Che failed to keep adequate records for and report 311 suspicious transactions.

They also failed to conduct customer due diligence and structured transactions in an effort to avoid its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT) requirements as a money remitter.

They did so for a customer, whom defence counsel David Jones QC described during the trial as “the elephant in the room”.

“He is an international businessman, a very wealthy man, owning substantial assets. That of course is significant and important in terms of the transactions undertaken.”

This man was Xiao Hua Gong.

Also known as Edward Gong, the entrepreneur is known for building a business empire through a hotel chain and television channels in Toronto.

He is friendly with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – having donated to the governing Liberal Party – and attended Trudeau’s controversial “cash-for-access fundraising dinners”.

But Gong was arrested in Canada and charged with fraud and money laundering in December 2017 over an alleged pyramid scheme involving the “fraudulent sale of hundreds of millions of dollars” in shares in China.

He has denied his financial success and influence was gained from an alleged $202m scheme selling medicines in China.

Gong later claimed the evidence against him was gathered by coercion in China, while several people in China have been jailed and fined for their part in the alleged pyramid scheme.

Nine months before Gong’s arrest in Canada, however, the New Zealand Police froze nearly $70m of the mogul’s assets here as part of a global investigation into the businessman.

Gong had also bought two Auckland properties, in Panmure and East Tamaki, in 2012 and 2015.

He paid in cash – a total of $2.3m for both homes.

At Jiaxin Finance’s trial during October in the High Court at Auckland, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) accused the company of having “intentionally concealed” Gong’s money in New Zealand with the help Che and Fu.

By Sam Hurley, The New Zealand Herald, 25 November 2019

Read more at The New Zealand Herald

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