Caixin
Jun 01, 2020 08:42 PM
FINANCE

Frozen Assets of ‘China’s Carl Icahn’ May Soon Be Returned

Xu Xiang and two associates were convicted of driving up share prices in January 2017.
Xu Xiang and two associates were convicted of driving up share prices in January 2017.

Some frozen assets linked to disgraced former star fund manager Xu Xiang may soon be returned by judicial authorities. Xu, who was sentenced to five and a half years in prison in 2017 for market manipulation following a 2015 stock market crash, had his assets frozen as part of the criminal investigation.

Xu’s wife Ying Ying wrote Sunday in a social media post (link in Chinese) that a judge in the eastern city of Qingdao told her screening of the frozen assets is “coming to an end.” She said that the process should’ve been completed three years ago when Xu was sentenced, so legal assets of the family could have been properly returned. Ying, who is seeking a divorce from Xu, said that billions of yuan of legal assets belong to her.

Ying has previously told Caixin that around 13 billion yuan of Xu’s 20 billion yuan fortune frozen by judicial authorities have no relation to the market manipulation case against Xu, including some belonging to Xu’s parents, son and affiliate companies. In April 2017, Ying applied to the Qingdao court for an asset screening to separate the legal assets from those associated with criminal activity.

The court did not respond, leading Ying to apply for compensation from the state in January 2019, saying that 12 billion yuan worth of assets frozen in Xu’s case are jointly owned by the pair, so half should be returned to her.

After that application yielded no result, Ying filed for divorce in March 2019, saying that her life had been hard after Xu was arrested as she raised their son on her own, which had worn down the couple’s relationship. As part of the divorce proceedings, Ying requested the court divide the couple’s common property.

Xu agreed to the divorce from his prison in Qingdao in August of last year, but the hearing only covered the divorce and child custody, separating division of joint property issues into another hearing. In November, Ying’s lawyer received a court notice extending the hearing for the dispute, and last month received a second notice further delaying resolution of the divorce.

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Xu, founder of Shanghai-based asset manager Shanghai Zexi Investment Management Co. Ltd., and two associates were convicted of driving up share prices by the Qingdao court in January 2017. Xu was fined 11 billion yuan and sentenced to five and a half years in prison for stock market manipulation, in one of the country’s most high-profile cases following a 2015 market rout.

Caixin dove deep into Xu’s background in 2015, starting with his 2005 move to Shanghai from his nearby home city of Ningbo. Some of Xu’s funds went on to post remarkable returns, including one that yielded 536% from 2011 to 2014, becoming one of the top performers in the period among the nation’s 491 comparable private investment funds.

Zexi did well during the 2015 stock market meltdown, which saw the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plunge more than 30% from mid-June to August. In the first nine months of that year, Zexi’s investments earned an average 218%, far higher than the second-most profitable player, operated by a Beijing-based fund manager called Shenzhoumu Fund, which reported a 94% yield, according to market analysis website Licai.com.

Zhao Runhua, Yang Ge and Han Wei contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Timmy Shen (hongmingshen@caixin.com) and editor Gavin Cross (gavincross@caixin.com)

Caixin Global has launched Caixin CEIC Mobile, the mobile-only version of its world-class macroeconomic data platform.

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