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Sichuan Tycoon Charged with Murder Linked to Ex-Top Security Czar’s Son

A Sichuan tycoon who has been charged with a host of gang-related crimes, including murder, was a close business partner of a former top leader’s son, himself caught in a corruption inquiry.

Prosecutors say Sichuan Hanlong Group chairman Liu Han, his brother, and thirty-six others ran a “mafia style” gang that committed crimes including murder, blackmail, and running guns. Liu is involved in mining, property, and power businesses.

Liu, forty-eight, was formally arrested in July. The official Xinhua News Agency said on February 20 that he and his brother, Liu Wei, face fifteen charges each. The Ministry of Public Security assigned their case to prosecutors in the central province of Hubei in April 2013.

Liu has ties to Zhou Bin, the former chairman of Beijing Zhongxu Yangguang Petroleum and Natural Gas Technology Ltd. He is deeply involved in the country’s hydropower and oil businesses, and is linked to a corruption investigation.

Caixin learned that in 2003 Zhou sold a tourism asset in the southwestern province of Sichuan to Liu for 20 million yuan ($3.3 million). A former employee of Liu’s said the asset was worth only several million yuan because the location was poor, but Liu said that “if it is not too much, we can agree.” The deal helped Liu to maintain his relationship with Zhou, the employee said.

Indeed, Liu soon benefited from the relationship. In 2005, Hanlong Group set up a power company in Sichuan, but encountered difficulties. The province’s economic planner said Liu could not own the entire company for environmental protection reasons. Zhou intervened, took a 20 percent stake in the company, then gave it back to Liu for free.

Liu has also tried to do business in Africa. In 2011, Hanlong proposed the takeover of an Australian mining company that owned an iron ore mine in Cameroon. But the deal was dropped after Liu was detained.

Before he was detained Liu received many honors. He was the Deputy Chairman of the Sichuan General Chamber of Commerce, and a three-term delegate to the province's People's Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body.

However, Hubei prosecutors say since 1993 Liu and his brother have organized a series of crimes, including murder, illegal detention, illegal business operations, gambling, running guns, and fraud. The gang the brothers led caused the deaths of nine people, prosecutors say.

Police confiscated three grenades, twenty guns, and hundreds of bullets owned by Liu brothers in ten provinces and cities, including Beijing, Sichuan, and coastal Guangdong, Xinhua reports. The news agency also said: “Liu Han became widely connected to government officials in his search for an ever-more powerful ‘umbrella.’” The latter is a reference to official protection for criminal activities. 

Liu was put under house arrest in March last year by public security officials in Beijing.

Liu Wei, who carried the Olympic torch during the relay for the 2008 Games in Beijing, has been wanted by police since 2009. Prosecutors say he organized the murder of three people in Guanghan, a city in Sichuan, and fled with the help of Liu Han.

Prosecutors also said Hanlong Group was involved in fraud involving 4 billion yuan.

A source close to the situation said that Hanlong fabricated documents to get bank loans in partnership with Sichuan Hongda Group, a mining and investment conglomerate controlled by a cousin of Liu’s. Liu is also a frequent visitor to casinos in Macau.

Liu is one of the several Sichuan businessmen to come under investigation since late last year. Other figures include Wu Bing, Chairman of Zhongxu (Hong Kong) Ltd.; Li Guangyuan, Chairman of Star Cable Co. Ltd.; Tan Jianming, Chairman of Xingrong Investment Co. Ltd.; and He Yan, the founder and controlling shareholder of Gotecom Electronic Technology Co., the company that makes equipment for the country’s Beidou navigation system.