Liu Han, Forbes' Listed Sichuan Billionaire Arrested as Triad Boss

liu-han-chinese-billionaire-tycoon-photo-courtesy-of-south-china-morning-post1.jpg

BEIJING, China - The average American is most familiar with China as a manufacturer of low costs products which make our lives easier and more affordable in these economically challenging times.

From tooth paste, to pet food, from home furnishing, to kitchen appliances, the percentage of Chinese made products sold by U.S. retailers is astoundingly high. There are many reasons for this inequity, but the focus of this article lies elsewhere.

If one were to poll these same consumers about the number of Chinese people ranked on the Forbes’ lists of richest people, most would probably guess none. That is because China is most often depicted as a country which routinely engages in unfair trade practices, currency manipulation, human rights violations, totalitarianism, and the most egregious of all its failings - it is a Communist nation which enslaves and oppresses an estimated population of 1.4 billion.

All of these accusations are true to greater or lesser degrees depending upon who is directly impacted, but what isn’t so well known is the fact that some of the wealthiest individuals in the world now herald from Asia countries. In fact, as of September 2013, Business Insider reported that "dollar billionaires in China has passed 300 for the first time in an annual ranking of wealth in the world's second-largest economy."

One such person is Sichuan mining tycoon Liu Han, 48. A resident of Hong Kong, he is ranked 148th in Forbes' 2012 list of China's richest men, with an estimated fortune of US$855 million.

Mr. Liu first came to the attention of the media when a school building that he funded emerged unscathed during the devastating 2008 earthquake. The quake which measured 8.0 magnitudes and killed 9,300 people could not topple the Liuhan Hope Primary School despite its proximity to the epicenter of the quake which was eight kilometers away in Beichuan.

Because none of the students were hurt, the school which had been constructed a decade earlier became known as “the safest primary school” in China. Shortly after the Sichuan quake, the billionaire donated more than 50 million yuan to charity groups for disaster relief. The move propelled him to greater prominence and, in 2009, he was ranked 16th in the Shanghai-based Hurun Report's China Philanthropy List. (Source: South China Morning Post)

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Published: 22 February 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

From that point forward it seemed as if Liu’s efforts to recede back into obscurity were on track. He quietly continued to amass wealth and was in the process of finalizing US$1.4 bn deal to acquire an Australian mining company when in a Shakespearean twist of fate, his younger brother, Liu Wei, 44, was indicted for a murder that allegedly occurred in 2009.

As is usually the case, when one shines a light into darkness many things can be revealed, and in this case because Liu harbored his brother who was a fugitive, he found himself the subject of investigation. During the course of background investigation of the philanthropist, authorities determined that his wealth may have been derived through more nefarious enterprises.

On Thursday night 20 February 2014, the China state media, Xinhua, alleged that not only was Wei a murderer, but Liu, who has since been placed under house arrest by Beijing police for harboring his fugitive brother; was in fact a puppet master implicated in numerous mafia-style gang attacks that resulted in at least nine deaths.

As the investigation progressed, according to South China Morning Post, Hubei police searched and seized from Liu’s residence three hand grenades, more than 20 guns and over 600 bullets. They subsequently announced the initial findings of their investigations and declared that the great philanthropist was in fact a high-ranking member of the Triads.

Most are familiar with the Triads as a Chinese equivalent of the Mafia. It is a transnational organized crime organizations based in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and also in countries with significant Chinese populations, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Siam (now Thailand), Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. (Source: Wikipedia)

As with other organized crime entities, the Triads are also involved in Contract killing, Prostitution, Counterfeiting, Health care fraud, drug trafficking, human trafficking, extortion, and murder. Xinhua announced that Liu, was in fact the boss of a criminal enterprise that consisted of 35 individuals who were responsible for managing the day-to-day criminal affairs of his organization.

Like many wealthy American criminals, Liu is comfortably ensconced in his residence under house arrest as the investigation progresses. However, if he is convicted of the 15 charges of murder, bribery, weapons charges, money laundering, gambling, and other unspecified crimes he could face death.

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Gina Rinehart's Delusion of Class Envy

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 20:25 PM EDT, 25 September 2012

Gina Rinehart (Cropped), Photo by Panorama MercantilIn the United States 2012 Presidential election one of the candidates has been labeled as out of touch plutocrat, a perception reinforced by his numerous faux pas, gaffes, and seeming inability to connect with voters.

The perception held by the public and the media is that Mitt Romney desires to become president for the sole purpose of advancing tax policies and legislation that will benefit the rich to the detriment of the middle class.

These assertions have been vigorously denounced by other wealthy Americans who have subsequently accused the public of class envy.

Though they claim to be beneficent and caring about the lower and middle classes, this proclaimed sentiment belies what many believe to be the truth. This feeling was evidenced in a statement made by Mitt Romney in May 2012 to wealthy donors attending a $50,000 a plate fund raising event.

Unbeknownst to Romney, he was caught on video expounding upon his view that 47% of working and lower class Americans were in their predicament because they lacked both drive and a sound work ethic.

This, despite the fact that he and other wealthy individuals like him inherited their wealth. Lest global citizens think that Mr. Romney is an aberrant case of an extremely wealthy individual who can’t or won’t sympathize with those who were not born with the same privileges and advantages, Gina Rinehart proves this assumption wrong.

Ms. Rinehart is an Australian mining tycoon who inherited a fortune which is now worth $19 billion and is considered the world’s richest woman. She also claims class envy as the reason why commoners dislike her. However, public derision of Rinehart stems from her 30 August 2012 statement to Amy Coopes, a reporter for AFP in which she advised people of lesser means on how to become one of the uber-wealthy.

"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain," she said in a magazine piece. "Do something to make more money yourself -- spend less time drinking or smoking and socializing, and more time working."

Today, speaking at the Sydney Mining Club, Rinehart reiterated her opinion about those less fortunate than her. In her speech she asserted that the mining industry in Australia cannot compete with nations that are willing to pay workers less than $2 a day for their sweat and labor, and therefore, Australian businesses should be allowed to lower employee salaries to match or beat this amount.

Rinehart has been urging Australian lawmakers to cut the minimum wage, ostensibly to prevent these jobs from being outsourced, but in reality it is because she doesn’t want to pay a living wage or benefits afforded most employees in industrialized nations, preferring to use the labor of immigrants from nations with emerging economies.

Like the American public, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard didn't buy Rinehart’s specious and self-serving argument. The truth of her position is much like other rapacious plutocrats, corporate raiders, and venture capitalists who believe that the poor should be grateful for any job even if they are paid little or nothing.

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