Premier Wen’s family now has billions in wealth
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/09/2012 -- During a speech last year, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao stated that during his childhood, his “family was extremely poor.” But recent reports state that his mother, Yang Zhiyun, is now part of a wealthy elite in China. After years of poverty and a small annual wage as a school teacher in northern China, it is not known how Ms. Yang, has accumulated such wealth.
According to corporate and regulatory records, Ms. Yang, a widow, began to accumulate wealth when her son first was elevated to China's elite ruling class, first in 1998 as the vice-premier and then five years later as Premier. An investigation by The New York Times shows that many relatives of Wen, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have all benefited from Wen’s political and financial success, each becoming extraordinarily wealthy in their own right during his climb to the upper echelon of political and financial power.
A review of corporate and regulatory records indicate that Wen's relatives, some of whom have a knack for aggressive deal-making, including his wife, now control assets worth at least $2.7 billion. In cases involving family members, the names of relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners, suggesting that Wen is trying to dismiss accusations of financial nepotism and corruption.
The Times found Wen's relatives accumulated shares in banks, jewellers, tourist resorts, telecommunications companies and infrastructure projects, sometimes by using offshore entities. Wen’s apparent efforts to conceal wealth reflect the highly charged politics and controversy surrounding the country's ruling elite, many of whom are also enormously wealthy but are highly reluctant to draw attention to their accumulated wealth.
A former government colleague of Wen stated, “In the senior leadership, there's no family that doesn't have these problems.”
A review of financial records from 1992 to 2012 show that no holdings are in Wen's name. However, throughout his tenure as vice-premier and Premier, he has been at the centre of rumours and conjecture about efforts by his relatives to profit from his position. Although it is unclear how much the Premier has helped his family accumulate extraordinary wealth over the past decade, U.S. State Department documents released by WikiLeaks in 2010 include a cable that suggests that Wen was aware of his relatives' dealings and was unhappy about them. According to the 2007 cable, a Chinese-born executive working at a U.S. company in Shanghai told US diplomats, “Wen is disgusted with his family's activities, but is either unable or unwilling to curtail them.”
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