A Chinese tycoon who served 13 years in prison for bribery and embezzlement and is still wanted by Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency has taken a position as an adviser to a cosmetics and skincare products manufacturer in Shanghai, according to a news report.
Zhou Zhengyi, also known as Chau Ching-ngai, was sentenced in 2007 to 16 years in prison for his crimes but released early in August. He was once Shanghai’s wealthiest man and the 11th richest in mainland China, with an estimated fortune of US$320 million from property development and stock market speculation.
He is still wanted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in Hong Kong for allegedly conspiring with others to defraud shareholders and making false statements, but the former British colony does not have an extradition deal to bring suspects from mainland China.
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Zhou, 59, said in an interview with business news website Damo Finance that he became interested in e-commerce and the retail sector during the coronavirus pandemic and had joined cosmetics firm Honey Grow as an adviser as he wanted to help promote local brands.
He said he did not have a financial interest in the company but had not ruled out taking a stake at a later date.
“I am no longer interested [in my past businesses] and they are being run by my family members,” he said. “I just don’t want to trouble myself with it any more and I have an uneasy feeling when I look back.”
Despite his crimes, the disgraced tycoon still appears to have plenty of friends. Among the hundreds of guests at a party he hosted on Sunday at a hotel in Shanghai to celebrate his 60th birthday – which falls on Friday – were several presenters and hosts from local broadcaster Dragon Television, according to local media reports.
The station, however, was not happy about its stars mingling with a known felon and issued a statement saying they should not take part in social activities that were “incompatible with their status and image”.
One person who was not at Zhou’s party was his ex-wife Mo Yuk-ping, who was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in Hong Kong in 2006 for conspiracy to defraud investors and perverting the course of justice. Zhou said they were no longer in touch with one another.
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