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Shanghai property tycoon appears in court on new charges
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20:05, October 24, 2007

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Shanghai property tycoon Zhou Zhengyi on Wednesday appeared in court again on new charges after serving a three-year term for fraud and manipulating the stock market.

This time, the Shanghai Municipal People's Prosecutor charged Zhou with misappropriation of funds, bribery and forging VAT receipts.

Sources with the Shanghai No. Two Intermediate People's Court said that the trial would last for days because of the complicated nature of the charges.

The same court gave jail terms to four prison officials in Shanghai in August for taking bribes and providing preferential treatment to Zhou, who was released from prison in May, 2006.

Zhou, former president of Shanghai-based property firm Nongkai Development Group, was detained again in October, 2006, as prosecutors investigated the Shanghai social security fund scandal.

Shanghai courts began to hear cases of officials involved in the scandal in June. The financial scandal was exposed to the public last year, with 3.7 billion yuan involved.

Investigators found the money had been illegally loaned, by a company of the municipal labor and social security bureau, to Shanghai Feidian Investment Development Co. Ltd, a company controlled by another business tycoon Zhang Rongkun, number 16 on the Forbes China Rich List in 2005, who has also been arrested as part of the investigation into the misuse of the pension funds.

Zhang was the first person arrested amid the government's probe into the fund scandal, which also brought down a number of high-ranking officials including former Shanghai Party chief Chen Liangyu. But there has been no official link drawn between Chen and Zhou.

Zhou, 45, also known as Chau Ching-ngai, started business as a teenager in a wonton noodle shop. In 2002, Forbes estimated Zhou's wealth at about 320 million U.S. dollars.

Source: Xinhua

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