Vancouver developer pursued by Interpol for corruption in China
As China continues its hunt for corrupt officials who have fled the country, a suspect has been identified on the other side of the Pacific: a prominent property developer in Vancouver.
The suspect is Michael Ching Mo Yeung, president and CEO of Mo Yeung International Enterprise, also known as MYIE Group.
The individual Interpol is looking for is named Cheng Muyang, who is believed to be the developer Michael Ching under an alias, but with a similarly anglicized Chinese name.
Interpol’s photographs of Cheng match the appearance of Ching, who they believe to have fled to Hong Kong in 2000 and arrived in Canada the same year.
Ching is wanted by the People’s Procuratorate of Qiaoxi district in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, for graft and concealing and transferring illegal gains. Cheng Weigao, the man believed to be Ching’s father, was a former party chief of the same province and was expelled from the Communist Party in 2003, also under investigation for corruption.
Refugee claim still in limbo
There is no extradition treaty between Canada and China, but this doesn’t mean Ching can remain in Canada indefinitely.
“Canada has returned quite a large number of Chinese nationals back to China,” said Charles Burton, an expert on Canada-China relations and associate professor at Brock University. Buton is also a former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing.
While Ching has been a permanent resident of Canada since 1996, he is still waiting on his refugee claim to be accepted by the immigration and refugee board, says Burton. If Ching is discovered to have entered Canada under false pretenses, he will be rendered criminally inadmissible to Canada.
A similar situation occurred with wealthy Chinese businessman and entrepreneur Lai Changxing.
In China, Lai was involved in smuggling goods from oil to cigarettes and heavily invested in infrastructure before fleeing to Hong Kong, then Canada in 1999. The Chinese government fought Canada to have Lai extradited until finally, in 2012, the federal court in Vancouver ruled that he should not be considered a refugee, resulting in Lai being sent back to China.
Lai was represented by prominent immigration and human rights lawyer David Matas of Winnipeg, who also represents Ching.
Fugitives only ‘thin edge of a very large iceberg’
The Chinese government believes Canada to be a popular place for economic fugitives.
“There appears to be a large amount of investment particularly in Vancouver in real estate from people from China,” said Burton. “The Chinese government alleges a lot of this investment is money which was claimed illegally in China.”
President Xi Jingping has enacted a large crackdown against corruption since coming to power in 2012. The most recent effort by China’s Central Commission of Discipline Inspection, Operation Sky Net, released a list of 100 economic fugitives last week. The alleged Ching is one of 26 reported to be in Canada.
“My expectation is they will be presenting many more cases to us [in Canada],” said Burton. “It’s probably the very thin edge of a very large iceberg. I would expect there to be many more.”
Ching’s legacy in Canada
Hong Kong English daily the South China Morning Post broke the story regarding Ching’s allegations on April 29.
TheVancouver Observer attempted to contact Ching regarding the allegations through his executive assistant and offices at MYIE Group multiple times on the phone but no one answered.
Ching’s MYIE Group has a number of upcoming development projects. The largest is Richmond’s International Trade Centre, with office space, shops, restaurants and a new luxury boutique hotel by OPUS hotels, similar to its existing Yaletown hotel.
Another condo project by MYIE Group was Collection 45 in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood. MYIE Group collaborated with Contemporary Art Gallery to provide affordable living and studio space at Collection 45 for artists.
The Vancouver Observer called Fifth Avenue Real Estate Marketing, who helped promote the condos, but was told they “no longer have that project” before the phone disconnected. Upon calling again and asking about to speak with the project manager regarding Ching and MYIE Group, a woman said the manager has no comment.
In politics, Ching donated $2,250 to Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie’s 2014 re-election campaign.
Ted Townsend of the city of Richmond’s corporate communications said the mayor is not doing interviews on this topic, and said in an email, “The City also has no comment as these are personal matters unrelated to any dealings this individual may have with the City.”
The Liberal Party of Canada also confirmed that Ching has donated to the party, along with the Conservative Party.
“What we can’t confirm, as we have no way of accurately knowing, is if this person is the same person referenced by the Chinese Government,” said Liberal party spokesperson Olivier Duchesneau in an email.
The Canada Asia Pacific Business Association listed Ching on their website as a vice-president and member of the board of directors on April 29, but his name vanished from the same list the day after. The association did not respond to the Observer’s calls, phone messages and emails for comment.
Also gone from the internet is MYIE Group’s original website, which said on April 29 was under maintenance.
Ching is believed to still be residing in Vancouver.