The chairman of China’s most notorious casino developer has been placed under investigation by mainland regulators, but Yang Zhihui remains in control of Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development, according to stock exchange announcements this week.
Yang has resigned his role as director and general manager of Shenzhen-listed China Dive Co Ltd, that company said on Monday. In a separate announcement, the diving equipment maker explained that the China Securities Regulatory Commission is investigating the Anhui-based entrepreneur on suspicion of manipulation of the securities market.
“The Board would like to emphasize that the business operations and management of China Dive and its subsidiaries are entirely separate and independent from those of the Group,” Landing’s board said in its statement. “Moreover, Mr. Yang has confirmed to the Board that the Investigation is not related to the Group,” the company added.
The reported investigation of Yang is the latest controversy surrounding the 48-year-old after the Yang’s creditors appointed receivers in an unsuccessful attempt to take control of the company late last year. And 2018 had been an even tougher year for Yang after the casino boss reportedly detained in Cambodia.
Investigated, But Not Out
The China Securities Regulatory Commission’s investigation of China Dive, which Yang took control of last year, comes just weeks after the financial regulator issued a notice on 20 October that it had begun investigating the Shenzhen-listed sports equipment maker.
Despite the investigation of its chairman, Landing International gave no notice of change in Yang’s role at the casino builder and said that its operations continued normally.
Landing’s primary source of revenue is its ownership and operation of the Jeju Shinhwa World Casino, which Yang secured a license for in 2014 after achieving a backdoor listing for the company on the Hong Kong exchange in 2013.
That ownership nearly changed hands last year when Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu directors Glen Ho Kwok Leung and Derek Lai Kar Yan had laid claim a 50.48 percent stake in Landing – exactly the percentage held by Yang, after the company chairman had reportedly pledged his shares in the company as collateral on debts which had gone into default.
Yang replaced two directors on Landing’s board in January this year after successfully fighting off the receivers hired by his creditors.
Selling the Private Jet
This past August, Landing announced that it had sold a private jet for $18.9 million which it had purchased from Yang for $23.3 million in 2017. Yang had picked up the 19-seat Bombardier Global 6000 for $53 million in 2014 at the same time that he arranged for Landing to lease it from him for $9.7 million per month.
In 2018, Landing disclosed that it had been unable to contact Yang after its chairman was reportedly handcuffed and taken away by Cambodian police at Phnom Penh airport in August of that year.
Yang’s Khmer detention was said to be related to business ties between Landing and Huarong International Financial Holdings, a unit of Chinese government-owned “bad bank” Huarong Asset Management. Huarong chairman Lai Xiaomin pled guilty to accepting RMB 1.79 billion ($257.7 million) in bribes in August of this year.