Xiao Jianhua, the Chinese-Canadian billionaire who also who holds Antigua and Barbuda citizenship, reportedly has gone on trial in China.
International media reports claim that Jianhua was due to go on trial on Monday, July 4, allegedly on charges of corruption. The specifics of the trial have not been disclosed by officials, media reports say.
However, it was noted that Canadian consular officials are monitoring the case closely, providing consular services to his family, and are continuing to press for consular access.
Jianhua was ranked 32nd on the 2016 Hurun China rich list – the equivalent of the Forbes list – with an estimated net worth of US$5.97 billion at the time.
Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell, as far back as June 2015, had questioned whether due diligence had been done on the Chinese man, who purchased major shareholdings in the West Indies Oil Company.
Again, in 2017, Lovell warned that Antigua & Barbuda’s reputation was on the frontline because of its association with the investor. He said, then, that the potential for reputational damage was tremendous and that the Browne Administration had been reckless in its pursuit of investment.
Jianhua, known to have links to China’s Communist Party elite, has not been seen in public since 2017, after he was investigated amid a state-led conglomerate crackdown.
At that time, he was reportedly taken from his apartment at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong and transported to mainland China.
Since his disappearance, questions have asked about his holdings in the West Indies Oil Company. In response, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said the Chinese investor’s interest in the company were being managed here in Antigua, but he did not elaborate.