Yang Zhihui, chairman of the Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development company, has reportedly been arrested in Cambodia and deported to China to face charges of bribery.
Initially, Landing – the developer behind a shelved $1.5bn casino resort scheme in the Philippines – had issued a statement confirming that they could not locate Yang, seeking to reassure investors that all was nonetheless well.
Investors didn’t agree and Landing shares haemorrhaged a whopping 33 per cent. The news that the chairman had seemingly taken flight followed the recent effective suspension of the huge scheme in Manila’s Entertainment City.
With a licence granted by regulator PAGCOR in July, Landing had broken ground on the development before Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte intervened, saying the scheme was bad for the government.
The faltering scheme has echoes of President Duterte’s intervention in the Galaxy Entertainment/Leisure Resorts and World joint venture to build an integrated casino resort on the holiday island of Boracay. Those proposals – awarded a provisional licence by regulator PAGCOR – were plagued by on/off uncertainty until Duterte weighed in with what would transpire to be the decisive blow.
Chinese news outlet Caixin has Friday reported that Yang was detained at an unnamed airport in Cambodia. Landing has a market value of around HK$11bn (€1.21bn), with Yang holding just over 50 per cent of issued share capital.
COMMENT: Uncertainty surrounds Yang’s fate and indeed the details of his arrest and deportation are far from clear. However, if there’s anything likely to fuel concerns that there are major problems afoot, it is a publicly-listed company confirming that it cannot find its chairman but that everything is “fine”.