Former CEO and president of Leshan Dongneng Group, Wang Dejun has a reputation as one of China's wealthiest and most successful businessmen. Forbes magazine ranks him the 167th richest man in the world, with personal assets in excess of US$98 million. What few people know is that Wang is also one of China's most corrupt businessmen, having built his fortune through massive bribing and inside government deals and land grabs.
He has somehow managed to acquire 460 million yuan (US$56.97 million) worth of government property for only 40 million yuan ($4.95 million).
According to the Chengdu Evening News, Wang Dejun, who is 39 years old this year, was arrested on December 20, 2004 on charges of suspected bribery. He is the distant nephew of the former mayor of Leshan City, Li Yushu, who was given the death penalty two years ago. The Leshan City Procuratorate confirmed that Wang Dejun helped Li Yushu launder at least 3 million yuan ($0.37 million).
Wang most recently fell under police scrutiny for his involvement in the bribing of two former county officials, Yang Guoyou and Tian Yufei.
Wang's Rise to Riches
According to one local businessman who claims to have known Wang as a young man, Wang was a bricklayer by trade, and he also earned money by fixing stoves. He said he most often saw Wang riding around town on his bicycle in search of a stove to fix.
In June 1995, Li Yushu was appointed director-general of Transportation Bureau in Leshan City. Soon after, Wang went into construction, landing a very lucrative project to build the Chengle highway. Rumor has it that Wang could not have the building contract without the direct help from Li Yushu.
Wang Dejun became involved in many other money making ventures: highway construction, furniture building, making construction materials, housing development, hotel management, being an electrician, being a property and business trader, recycling resources, working in city water drainage and ten others.
Money Laundering For Li Yushu
Li Yushu trusted Wang Dejun. In Chengdu City, the capital of Si Chuan Province, Yang Shuqing, Feng Shixiong, and Wang Dejun established the company, Shuda Enterprise Co., which acted as a front for funneling 24 million yuan ($2.97 million). The money was in fact Li Yushu's bribery money.
Wang Dejun confessed that total of 3.81 million yuan ($0.47 million) Feng Shixiong gave him was from Li Yushu. Wang Dejun then laundered the money by giving it to Deli Electronics Co., registered by Li Yushu with investment of half a million yuan ($6.19 million), making it fully legal.
A 460 million Yuan State-owned Stock for just 40 million
In 2002, Jianwei County wanted to sell its state-owned electricity stock from Jianwei Electricity Company. In order to secure the stock, Wang Dejun bribed Tian Yunfei, the former secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Jianwei County Committee, with the help of the former vice secretary of the CCP Leshan Municipal Committee.
According to the prosecutor, Tian Yufei held a secret meeting insisting that the stock be sold to Wang Dejun, despite the State Council's pleas to not sell any state-owned electricity stock. They sold the stock to Wang Dejun's company for 40 million yuan in November 27, 2002 even though Jianwei Electricity was worth 0.46 billion yuan and had a net value of 0.19 billion yuan ($0.024 billion).
Within in one day Wang Dejun became 0.4 billion yuan richer. Wang Dejun gave Tian Yufei cash, cars and houses with a total value of 14.9 million yuan ($1.85 million). In addition, he spent several million yuan refurbishing Tian Yufei's luxury dwelling.
Wang Attempt to Buy Two Coal Mines for a Pittance
After purchasing the Jianwei Electricity company, Wang set his sights on two State run coalmines, worth nearly 84 million yuan ($10.40 million). He attempted to pay 1.8 million yuan ($.22 million) to have the properties “transferred” to him, but his plot was foiled by the mine management, who could easily saw through his underhanded scheme.
Two County Governors Arrested for Bribery
Wang Dejun successfully corrupted Yang Guoyou, Jianwei County Governor, and Liu Yucheng, Ebian County Governor. Yang was arrested on March 9 on charges of bribery, and Liu was arrested on September 20 on charges of bribery and embezzlement. Both stand accused of accepting half million yuan bribes from Wang.