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China Tycoon Charged with Murder and Other 'Mafia-Style' Crimes

  • VOA News

FILE - Liu Han, the former multimillionaire chairman of energy conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group.

FILE - Liu Han, the former multimillionaire chairman of energy conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group.

It seems like a storyline from a movie.

Authorities accuse Ferrari-driving multimillionaire of running murderous, "mafia-style" crime network.

But in China, that story is real.

Chinese prosecutors say mining tycoon Liu Han ran a gang that racked up nine murders, as it bribed and blackmailed its way to billions of dollars in assets. The group - operating since 1993 - allegedly did business in energy, real estate and mining.

Liu Han - former head of energy conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group - and his brother, Liu Wei, were among 36 people charged. China's official Xinhua news agency says the charges include murder, assault and illegal detention.

Police seized three hand grenades and at least 20 guns in the gang bust, which appears to be part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's crackdown on corruption. The nation's southwestern Sichuan province, where the Hanlong Group is based, has been a focus of the crackdown.

Much of the activity in Sichuan has been linked to China's former internal security chief, Zhou Yongkang, who used to be one of the most powerful politicians in the nation.

Even though the gang was operating mainly in Sichuan, authorities in neighboring Hubei province are handling the case.

Xinhua reports Liu Han has been detained for nearly a year, since last March.

At that time, he had been negotiating to buy Australian mining company Sundance Resources Limited for more than $1 billion. But the deal collapsed after his arrest.

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