Angry Chinese Protesters Turn on Li Peng Over Investment Scam
Some 200 protesters gathered outside Beijing's city hall Friday in a noisy protest blaming high-ranking leaders for losses incurred in a government-backed investment scam.
"Li Peng come out! Li Peng come out! We demand the return of the money we earned with our blood and tears," the protesters shouted as some 50 policemen maintained order and video-taped the proceedings.
Li Peng is the number two in the Chinese Communist Party and also serves as the head of China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC).
His son, Li Xiaoyong, was said by protesters to be involved in an investment scam run by the Xinguoda Futures Brokerage which they said collected huge sums of money from unwary investors and sacked it away in overseas bank deposits.
Leaflets dispersed at the demonstration also contained several pictures of former Xinguoda manager Cao Yufei playing tennis with powerful politburo members Li Tieying, Luo Gan and Wu Bangguo.
The protesters said Cao was subsequently executed after his 64 million dollar investment scam was discovered.
AFP could not find any official government announcement about Cao's execution, and the claims could not be verified.
However, according to a mid-1998 report by the official Xinhua news agency, three people, including Taiwanese businessman Cao Yufei, were arrested in connection with the 532 million yuan (64 million dollar) investment scam.
The three also allegedly put some 140 million dollars of illicitly raised funds in overseas bank accounts, the report said.
Protesters bitterly complained that they had not been compensated for their losses and that the judicial authorities were now ruling that Cao and his cronies had no link to high-ranking government officials.
They said that in August 1998 they were told by judicial authorities and other responsible officials that Xinguoda was "state-run" and "completely legal."
Li Xiaoyong, Li Peng's son, was an early investor in Xinguoda, but recouped his funds before the scam collapsed, protesters said.
Securities investment in China is still in its infancy, with most investors choosing to invest in projects backed by the government or by high-ranking officials.
"The case of Xinguoda is pure case of 'eating the people' through official corruption and graft cooked up by Cao Yufei and others to hoodwink the money earned by the blood and tears of the people," one leaflet said.
"Official corruption is a big disease shaking the politics of the country and ruining the economic base, it is the enemy of the people and is the biggest element creating instability in the nation," it said.
The protests came after 14 people, including senior police and customs officers, were sentenced to death this week for their role in a 6.6 billion dollar smuggling racket in the southeastern province of Fujian -- BEIJING (AFP)
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