Landing International’s misplaced chairman, Dr Yang Zhihui, is back, the company announced Monday.
Yang was reported missing in August, shortly after attending a groundbreaking ceremony for Landing’s proposed $1.5 billion integrated resort in Entertainment City, the Philippines, a project now in jeopardy.
In a brief filing to the Hong-Kong Stock Exchange, the casino developer explained Yang had been “assisting the relevant department of the People’s Republic of China with its investigation during the period of his absence” and had now “resumed his duties as Chairman of the Board.”
Detained in Cambodia?
Landing had said it had no knowledge of its chairman’s whereabouts, although a number of media reports claimed Yang had been detained in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and extradited to China, allegedly on corruption charges.
These claims first appeared in Hong Kong-based financial markets analysis website, winmoney.hk, which cited “sources within the gaming industry.” The site also published a photograph showing a man who looked like Yang apparently being arrested at Phnom Penh airport.
Caixin, a financial news website based on the mainland, repeated the claims, which it said it had been able to confirm through separate sources.
In its Monday note, Landing made no mention of which specific department of the People’s Republic of China Yang had spent the past three months assisting, nor the nature of its enquiries. But it was likely to have been the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).
Both winmoney and Caixin claimed Yang was wanted for questioning over his business links to the state-owned Huarong International Financial Holdings.
Huarong’s chairman, Lai Xiaomin, resigned in April after he became the subject of unspecified but “serious violations of discipline and laws.”
Landing was forced to suspend trading on its stock in August just before the official announcement of Yang’s disappearance when share prices plunged 35 percent in just two hours.
Stock crashed again on October 2 when the Hong Kong’s Government Gazette reported that the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (SFC) had frozen $1.3 billion in assets of an unnamed chairman of a public company who had apparently lost contact with his board.
The SFC said the chairman was possibly abroad or under investigation in China on suspicion of corruption, according to The Gazette.
Incredibly, the unfortunate chairman described may not have been Yang at all. According to Bloomberg, “at least” three company chairmen have gone missing from Hong Kong-listed Chinese firms this year alone, all probably ensnared by Beijing’s endless “anti-corruption” campaign.
On a brighter note, few things improve a company’s value like a previously missing chairman’s sudden reappearance — and, sure enough, the markets reacted positively to Yang’s reappearance on the scene. Landing stock was up 10 percent by the end of trading on Monday.