Li Xiaolin (李小琳) was born in 1961 to Li Peng, then an electrical engineer, and Zhu Lin, a Russian-language translator. She was the second of Li Peng’s three children. Her older brother is Li Xiaopeng. Li followed her father’s footsteps and studied power generation, eventually obtaining a Master of Engineering degree in Power System and Automation from the prestigious Tsinghua University.
Li claims to have spent time at the MIT Sloan School of Management, however MIT stated that the only record it has of attendance by a student with Li’s name was enrollment in a “non-degree short course” open to anyone who has “intellectual curiosity” and pays $7,500 for 15 days of classes. Currently, she is the only female CEO of a Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed company. She is also a member of the Copenhagen Climate Council. In 2008, she was named one of the 50 most powerful women in business by Fortune magazine. In 2012, Li was conferred with Tamgha-e-Pakistan (Medal of Pakistan). According to Hurun Report’s China Rich List 2013, she had an estimated personal fortune of US$550 million, making her the 606th wealthiest person in China.
In 2014, leaked data obtained by the think tank International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) showed that Li Xiaolin owned assets in the tax haven British Virgin Islands. She had been listed as the director of the BVI shell companies Tianwo Holdings Ltd and Tianwo Development Ltd since 2005. The report further revealed that Li and her husband opened a Swiss-based account with HSBC in 2001, and by 2006-2007 held $2.45 million on the account; additionally, the couple were listed as owners of Metralco Overseas S.A., registered in Panama.
In July 2015, Li Xiaolin was transferred from China Power International to China Datang Corporation to serve as a vice-president.
Top power industry job for Li Xiaolin, daughter of former Chinese premier
Li Xiaolin, the daughter of former premier Li Peng, has been given a top job at one of the country’s electricity giants, ending weeks of speculation over her next step after she was not chosen for a senior management position at a newly formed power company.
The State Council’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission announced on its website on Tuesday that Li had been appointed as the vice-president and a member of the Communist Party group at China Datang Corporation, one of the largest power generation companies on the mainland.
Li said she would “firmly obey Sasac’s decision” and promised to “assume the role as soon as possible” to contribute to China Datang’s reform and development, according to a statement on the company’s website on Tuesday.
Many industry observers were surprised at news last month that Li would not be on the management team of the newly formed State Power Investment Group – a merger between State Nuclear Power Technology and China Power Investment (CPI), where she was once a vice-president, especially given her family’s perceived high influence in the power sector.
Li, known as China’s “power queen”, has worked at CPI for 12 years and is chairwoman of one of its subsidiaries, China Power International Development.
Citing unnamed industry sources, financial news outlet Caijing said Li had been expected to head up the newly merged company.
Li did not appear in public for some time after she was apparently sidelined.
She was also absent from China Power International Development’s annual general meeting in Hong Kong in June, fuelling further speculation about her future.
But Li took part in a China Power International Development video conference on June 18.
She also made a low-key trip to Hong Kong for a company signing ceremony eight days later, dispelling rumours that she was not allowed to leave the mainland.
According to the China Datang statement, Sasac deputy chief Liu Qiang told a meeting at the company yesterday that the decision to transfer Li from China Power Investment to China Datang was made “in line with work demands”.
“Comrade Li Xiaolin is of relatively good political calibre, is familiar with the electricity industry, and has relatively rich experience in managing listed companies and a relatively strong leadership ability,” Liu was quoted by the statement as saying.
He added that Li had also contributed to the development of China Power International Development.
Liu commended Li for her strong career and sense of responsibility, as well as the strict requirements she imposed on herself.
By Nectar Gan
Daughter of ‘Butcher of Tiananmen Square’ brokered secret deal for insurance giant
A secret deal that helped Zurich Insurance break into the Chinese market could come under investigation.
A secret multi-million pound deal to carve up China’s insurance market, brokered by the daughter of the country’s former prime minister, has been sent to anti-corruption investigators.
The deal guaranteed Zurich Insurance, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, a hugely lucrative stake in a major Chinese insurance company at a time when foreign firms were barred from investing in the sector.
The deal, which came to light during a court case in the United States, was cut at the very highest level of the Communist party, by the daughter of the prime minister at the time, Li Peng.
The documents and transcripts from the court, obtained by the Telegraph, give a fresh insight into the relationship between money and power in China, and the “hurdles” western businesses have had to leap to establish themselves in the world’s second-largest economy.
The revelations also come in the midst not only of one of the fiercest anti-corruption campaigns in years, but also at a time when foreign firms are under particular scrutiny, with Chinese investigators already lookinginto alleged malpractice at GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical giant, and Danone, the French food group.
In 1995, Li Xiaolin, now one of China’s most powerful women in her own right, introduced executives from Zurich to three Chinese businessmen who held a majority stake in New China Life, the country’s largest private insurance company.
In return for a $16.9 million (£10.4 million) payment into an offshore Credit Suisse account in the Bahamas, they agreed to sell Zurich almost a quarter of the company, four years before it was legal for foreign firms to make such investments.
Court documents and transcripts obtained by the Telegraph show how the money from Zurich was then used to bribe several high-ranking Communist party officials, who allegedly received thousands of dollars of “pocket money” when they visited the United States.
There is no suggestion that Zurich was aware of how the money was subsequently spent.
A spokesman for the company said its shareholding in New China Life “is in compliance with the relevant laws in China and China Insurance Regulatory Commission regulations”. He added: “Beyond this, we do not have any further comments.”
Many of the officials who received payments were directly responsible for deciding whether to allow foreign companies to enter China’s financial sector.
In one case, a $600,000 house was bought for the use of the daughter of China’s then Finance minister while she was studying in the US.
Zurich has reaped enormous profits from its stake in New China Life. After its initial payment to the Bahamas, it paid a further 51 million yuan in 2000, the equivalent at the time of just £6.7 million, for a 10 per cent stake in the company.
According to reports in the Chinese media, it spent a further 437.6 million yuan in 2004 (£29 million) to build that stake to 20 per cent.
As the value of the company soared, Zurich amassed £485 million from share sales. Its remaining 9.4 per cent of the company is worth roughly £600 million.
The deal was revealed in a legal battle between two of the businessmen that Zurich dealt with: 59-year-old Zhang Hongwei, now one of China’s richest men, and his former employee, Bill Zhao.
In 2010, Mr Zhang accused Mr Zhao, a former Chinese government official who went on to work at the World Bank, of misappropriating some of the money that Zurich paid.
In the subsequent court battle, details of the fee and how it was spent, were aired in court.
Separately, another of Mr Zhang’s former associates has reported the deal to the Communist party’s anti-graft unit, the Commission for Discipline Inspection, as part of a raft of allegations against him.
In court, Bill Zhao explained how the deal with Zurich had first been raised at a state banquet for the Swiss president in October 1995.
Li Xiaolin had come to him, a former school friend, after the dinner and told him the chairman of Zurich was interested in breaking into the Chinese market.
“And she said, you know what, I think this could be a good opportunity for you guys trying to set up organising New China Life. And I said, it sounds pretty good. Let’s do something,” he said.
Mr Zhao put the idea to his boss, Zhang Hongwei, who ran a conglomerate called China Orient Group. After discussions in Beijing and Zurich, a contract was drawn up the following year.
“We did tell them that our role would be to assist Zurich to enter the Chinese market by helping them receive governmental approval,” said Mr Zhang in court. He described the payment from Zurich as a “good faith fee” to demonstrate its commitment.
A legal opinion from Beijing’s Tianyin law firm, submitted to the US court, said the deal was in breach of the law: “It was in violation of the relevant regulations whereby the transaction was not enforceable and the seller’s receipt of the payment for the stock purchase by the buyer was not legal”.
The law firm added that, by keeping the money from Zurich offshore and not sending it back to the mainland, China Orient Group had also broken China’s foreign exchange rules.
“This is an under-the-table deal. You can call it bribery,” said Hugh Mo, a lawyer for Mr Zhao, in his closing arguments, referring to the USD16.9 million payment.
“You can call it, you know, illicit funds. You can call it, let’s say, you know, to grease the wheel. You can even say that it’s to lobby or to facilitate the Zurich Insurance Company to enter China’s insurance market.”
In court, Mr Zhang’s lawyer said there had not been “any evidence to show that the transaction was illegal” but did not dispute that the money had been paid by Zurich.
The documents also reveal how the families of the leaders most closely associated with the Tiananmen Square massacre have gone on to reap enormous rewards for keeping the Communist party in power.
Li Xiaolin’s father, Li Peng, became known as the “Butcher of Tiananmen”.
He ordered the tanks to move in, albeit at the behest of the paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.
Li Xiaolin and her brother, Li Xiaopeng, came to control the power industry. Last year, the New York Times revealed that the family of Wen Jiabao, the former prime minister who was also closely involved in handling the student protests, had a fortune of $2.7 billion, also mainly from the insurance industry.
The US court heard that some of the money from Zurich was transferred to the United States where it was used to buy an apartment block, to fund the education and visas for Mr Zhang’s three children, and to “ingratiate, lobby and influence high-level Chinese officials”.
Cheques were produced in court to show payments to Chinese officials, including the purchase of a house for the use of the daughter of the then Finance minister, Xiang Huaicheng, while she studied at an American university.
Tian Fengshan, the former Land and Resources minister who was given a life sentence for corruption in 2005, was given $10,000 of “pocket money” when he visited the US in 1998.
Another payment allegedly went to Ma Mingjia, who ran the insurance department of the People’s Bank of China and another to Huang Mengfu, the vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC), a political advisory group which Mr Zhang sits on.
Mr Zhang denied that he had authorised any of the payments, but admitted that his company had a policy of entertaining senior officials. In his deposition, Mr Zhang said that he might have asked for some money to be given to Mr Huang. “Possible, but how much, I don’t remember,” he said.
A spokesman for Mr Zhang said: “China Orient Group did not sell any shares of New China Life to Zurich Insurance.”
The dispute between Mr Zhang and Mr Zhao is currently at an appeal stage at the Supreme Court in Virgina. Mr Zhao is disputing an earlier court judgment that found him in breach of fiduciary duty in relation to the management of the American branch of the Orient Group. He has been cleared of four other charges.
By Malcolm Moore, in Beijing and Raf Sanchez in Fairfax County, Virginia