Irish businessman Richard O’Halloran, who has been prevented from leaving China for almost three years, will be allowed to return home, the Irish government has confirmed.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said on Friday that he was “pleased” to confirm that the restrictions placed on O’Halloran have been lifted, enabling him to return home to Ireland shortly.
Coveney said his department has been working on ensuring the safe return of O’Halloran. The minister travelled to China last year in a bid to secure the Irishman’s release from travel restrictions.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney T.D., is pleased to confirm that the travel restrictions placed on Mr. Richard O’Halloran in China have now been lifted, enabling him to return home to Ireland. pic.twitter.com/kY8jkBrah1
— Irish Foreign Ministry (@dfatirl) January 28, 2022
Richard O’Halloran, 46, a director of China International Aviation Leasing Service (CALS), left his Dublin home in February 2019 for Shanghai, China. What he thought was a short business trip turned out to be nearly three years in limbo, after he was caught up in an investigation into his employer Min Jiedong’s crowdfunding activities.
Min, O’Halloran’s employer, invested in dozens of countries around the globe, including aircraft leasing company CALS Ireland, in which he was the chairman and the main shareholder.
Min’s funding had been raised through peer-to-peer crowdfunding, in what he boasted as a pioneering business model “P2F2B+PDP (Person-to-Financial institution-to-Business+Pre-Delivery Payment).”
Min’s business model was widely praised in Chinese media outlets and business magazines as being innovative, until he was accused of defrauding investors in July 2018 when Chinese authorities launched a crackdown on lenders and he landed in prison.
The fundraising took place before O’Halloran’s employment, and the Irishman was not charged with or accused of any wrongdoing. But he was not allowed to leave China.
In a statement issued on Friday, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said: “This has been a difficult time for Mr. O’Halloran and his family. The government has been actively engaged on the matter throughout and is delighted it has reached a successful result.”
“The minister wishes Mr. O’Halloran a happy reunion with his family,” the statement said.
Coveney, the foreign minister, wrote on Twitter: “Very good news, after many months of work. Thank you to everyone who assisted. I want to wish Richard and his family well following a traumatic three years and hope that their privacy will be respected on his return home.”
Irish premier Micheal Martin said: “Warmly welcome the returning home of Richard O’Halloran. I acknowledge the work of the many people in Ireland and in China who have helped make this day happen. It has been a very difficult journey for him and his family. Thinking of them today.”
Lily Zhou and PA Media contributed to this report.