China charges former mining magnate with murder, gun-running

February 21, 2014

Its a story that reads as if it could come straight the pages of a Hollywood script — the former chairman of Hanlong Mining was charged with a host of crimes including murder and gun-running, Reuters reported.

Hanlong Mining, based in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, holds a majority interest in the Australian-listed iron ore miner Moly Mines and is Sundance Resources' biggest shareholder, though its proposed $1.27 billion takeover of Africa-focused Sundance was called off last April after Hanlong missed funding deadlines.

Hanlong Mining also attempted to acquire Uranium explorer Bannerman Resources Ltd for A$143 million, but those talks ended talks ended in late 2011 on similar funding hurdles.

Hanlong was also the principal financial backer and future customer of General Moly Inc's $1.3 billion molybdenum mining project in the United States, in which Hanlong would help arrange a $665 million loan from the China Development Bank. General Moly terminated the sale agreement in August.

Police arrested former Hanlong chairman Liu Han last year.

In a report carried by the official Xinhua news agency, prosecutors in the central province of Hubei said the Han and his younger brother Liu Yong - also known as Liu Wei set up the gang in 1993, along with 34 others, which "carried out a vast number of criminal activities."

According to the report, the gang was responsible for nine murders.

"Those charged also came up with myriad ways to draw in and corrupt officials who worked for the state, seeking their protection, to consolidate and expand their influence on society," Xinhua added.

"Liu Han, Liu Wei and the others formed, led and participated in mafia-style crimes, murder, assault, illegal detention, interference in state functions, affray, extortion, gambling, illegally buying and selling guns, illegal gun ownership ... (and) fraud."

Police seized thousands of bullets, plus 20 guns and three hand grenades, the report said, an unusual detail in a country where gun ownership is tightly controlled and gun crime rare.

State media reported last year that Liu was held for helping his brother Liu Yong evade capture over a 2009 triple murder.

Liu Han was a member of Sichuan province's government advisory body. He founded Hanlong Group in 1997, a conglomerate that has businesses spanning from solar energy to real estate and infrastructure.

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