Top News | Stella Wong 17 Mar 2017

It was impossible for mainland businessman and one of China's richest individuals, Xiao Jianhua, to be kidnapped from Hong Kong and taken to the mainland, Sing Tao News Corp chairman Charles Ho Tsu-kwok said yesterday.

Xiao is "chief strategist" and de facto boss of the Beijing-based business empire Tomorrow Group. He rose to become the 32nd richest person in China in 2016, according to the Huran Report, with his family's fortune estimated at 40 billion yuan (HK$45 billion).

He had been staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Central - where he was surrounded by female bodyguards and assistants - and was seen taking phone calls and meeting clients before his controversial "return" to the mainland in January.

In the opening speech at the 2016 Leader of the Year award ceremony, organized by Sing Tao at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong last night, Ho mocked Xiao as "smart," as he revealed how Xiao earned his "first pot of gold," and how he has sired as many as 56 children.

"The security of Four Seasons Hotel is very strict so that it is impossible for anyone to force or kidnap anyone out of the hotel," Ho said. He said on that night, Xiao left on his own free will, and took his four female guards with him, as the group crossed the border in two black BMW cars.

"You can say he was persuaded to leave, but not kidnapped. [Being persuaded to leave] is a common practice for overseas criminals," Ho said. He then revealed how Xiao earned his "first pot of gold" by lying back in the 1990s. Ho recalled his first meeting with Xiao, during which the mainland tycoon related his story.

Xiao told Ho he knew the senior staff of a foreign computer firm, and told them if they wanted to develop business successfully in China, they must cultivate a business relationship with the People's Liberation Army.

According to Ho, Xiao then introduced the senior staff to his family members, who were pretending to be "generals, lieutenant generals and major generals of People's Liberation Army."

In the fake meeting, they reached consensus that the computer company would sell computers to the army at a discount. Xiao thus earned US$10 million (HK$78 million) to US$20 million after one to two years. Ho said Xiao told him he did not sell any computers to the army, but to the public instead.

"He is a very clever person, as he knows how the road should be, and he is willing to make a bet," Ho said.

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