Thu, Oct 10, 2013 - Page 15 News List

China arrests chairman of tin firm

CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN:Yunnan Tin chairman Lei Yi is suspected of taking a bribe from a Goldman Sachs cofounded firm to buy out its stake in a private college

Reuters, BEIJING

Chinese authorities have arrested and charged the chairman of the world’s largest producer of refined tin, Yunnan Tin Co (雲南錫業), for accepting bribes, a provincial government said, in the latest example of the country’s crackdown on graft.

Yunnan Tin chairman Lei Yi (雷毅) had been charged with taking 20 million yuan (US$3.27 million) in bribes from four people, the Yunnan government said on one of its official Web sites, including from the chairman of a company called Leed International Education Group (國教集團), in which Goldman Sachs has a stake.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

The Yunnan government Web site said Lei had taken money from Leed chairman Li Hongtao (李洪濤) to help smooth the way for Leed to buy Yunnan Tin’s 45 percent stake in a private college that both companies had set up in 2009.

The Web site report made no mention of Goldman Sachs, saying simply that Leed was cofounded by a “foreign investment group.”

A person familiar with the matter said that Goldman Sachs’ private equity arm signed an agreement with Li in 2008, in a deal worth less than US$70 million that ultimately formed Leed.

An official at Yunnan Tin said the company had not received any legal documents about Lei’s case and the company was still trying to confirm the details.

For now, Lei is still chairman and the legal representative for the company, the official said, adding that production and sales had not been affected.

Yunnan Tin said on July 6 that Lei’s corporate duties had been assumed by a deputy as Lei was under investigation for “serious discipline violations,” a phrase normally used to describe corruption.

An executive at Leed’s public relations department in Beijing, who gave her family name as Wang (王), said the education company would not comment on the matter and was unable to provide contact details for Li.

Yunnan Tin had an output of about 70,000 tonnes of refined tin last year, nearly double the No. 2 producer, Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd.

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