Guangdong Rising Assets Management is under investigation for a series of bad investments including the purchase of PanAust and the Frieda river mining rights. Four people are already being prosecuted for corruption and now the former Chairman is in the spotlight over losses of more than $1 billion
Chinese probe big mine loss
Rowan Callick | The Australian | October 16, 2017
The former chairman of a Chinese state-owned enterprise has been handed over to prosecutors for investigation after the company’s investments in several Australian mining ventures lost more than $1 billion.
Li Jinming, who chaired Guangdong Rising Assets Management, which is owned by Guangdong province, was earlier expelled from the Communist Party following an investigation that began in 2014 over losses that the disciplinary inspection team described as “dreadful”.
The company was established 17 years ago with $2bn capital, the South China Morning Post reported, and it began investing in Australia after the Global Financial Crisis pushed down asset and commodity prices.
It acquired, through different subsidiaries, lead-zinc producer Perilya for $45.5 million, coal producer Caledon Resources for $500m, copper and gold company PanAust — with a massive prospect awaiting commitment in Papua New Guinea at Frieda River — for $180m, and rare earths producer Northern Minerals for $60m,
It also paid $15m for a large stake in gold and base metal explorer Hawthorn Resources.
Leading Chinese financial website Caixin reported that most of these deals had since made losses, with calls on further capital from GRAM.
Li Zezhong, who worked for GRAM for 11 years, ultimately as president, was then appointed mayor of Zhuhai, a thrusting city of 1.5 million on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, just north of Macau.
It was his successor at GRAM who urged a deepening of the investigation into the company’s management.
Last month it was announced that Li Zezhong was being investigated for “serious violations of party discipline,” believed to relate to his time at GRAM.
Four colleagues from his time at the company are already being prosecuted for corruption.
Caixin has reported that investigators are also seeking to interview Liu Facai, now living in Australia. He chaired the committee responsible for all state assets in Guangdong province when he led a team to Australia 11 years ago to explore investments in mineral projects.
Caixin said that he and his son, who was already living in Australia, introduced GRAM to firms in which the company went on to invest.