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Chinese official in B.C. scandal charged

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

Liu Tienan has been formally charged in China. (REUTERS)

Liu Tienan has been formally charged in China. (REUTERS)

A high-profile Chinese politician wrapped up in a trans-Pacific scandal rooted in British Columbia has been formally charged in China on allegations of corruption.

According to China’s official government news service, Xinhua, Liu Tienan was charged with “taking bribes” by a court in the country’s northern province, Hebei.

Liu was the country’s former energy minister and member of the high-level National Development and Reform Commission.

He was involved in a deal in British Columbia with another Chinese businessman, Ni Ritao, who is also in the custody of authorities in China, as they investigate fraud-related allegations involving the deal.

The pair were detained by Chinese police after an investigative magazine in China alleged they used B.C.-based Sun Wave Forrest Group to secure loans fraudulently from banks in China, sending shockwaves through the nation due to Liu’s status.

But back in B.C. opposition critic for international trade Bruce Ralston said the latest in the saga raises questions about whether foreign investors are being reviewed by the province.

Pointing to another case this week, in which the B.C. government hosted Steven Law, a Burmese businessman with ties to opium cartels the U.S. has placed sanctions on, Ralston questioned if the government goes to any measures to vet.

“It doesn’t look like they’re particularly careful about that,” he said. “That’s not good for the reputation of British Columbia and it’s not good in the long run for business opportunities. Bad drives out good.”

In 2012, former BC Liberal and Minister of Jobs Pat Bell came under fire for forwarding a copy of the initial story from the Chinese magazine to former staffer and BC Liberal party vice-president Bill Belsey, who was working for Ni.

Bell insisted he had done nothing wrong in forwarding the article and his concerns.

Documents obtained by 24 hours also show Liu, on behalf of Beijing, signed off on a uranium deal in Saskatchewan with federal foreign affairs minister John Baird in 2012.

Minister of International Trade Teresa Wat did not return a request for comment by presstime.


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