leju.com: Oceanwide Holdings re-announced no involvement in the corruption ges against a LA City Councilman
FBI found wads of cash in red envelopes with Chinese characters in the residence of José Huizar, the-then Los Angeles City Councilman and chair of the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, during raids.
Huizar, 51, was arrested at his home on June 23 for the largest corruption case in LA.
Oceanwide Holdings is not linked to the case
The earliest coverage of the case dated back to a report in the Los Angeles Times in November 2018. The following report mentioned the names of four Chinese real estate developers, i.e. Shenzhen New World Group (11.790, 0.09, 0.77%), Greenland, Oceanwide Holdings (4.400, 0.17, 4.02%) and Shenzhen Hazens. The report triggered other reports by Chinese media outlets, most of which mentioned the above four companies.
But what is on earth the truth? leju.com has exclusively interviewed relevant head of Oceanwide Holdings. According to the head, his company never offered any bribes to the council member Huizar; any sayings on Oceanwide’s involvement in the corruption case and Chinese media’s reports are untrue.
In this regard, China Oceanwide Holdings Group published a stern announcement on June 28, saying the company operates in strict compliance with all applicable laws of Los Angles, and the arrest of a local Council member does not implicate the company or the company’s local real estate development projects. Before that, Oceanwide published a similar announcement in July 2019, emphasizing no linkage with the case.
The head said, Oceanwide got to know the information on the corruption case in Los Angles in November 2018 but the case has been disclosed for over a year. At that time, all the real estate developers and some real estate operators in LA District 14 received letters for assistance in investigation from FBI, and were required to provide materials about the councilman and related persons. Oceanwide was one of them.
“We have no idea why the report of the Los Angles Times just specified four Chinese companies. We were one of the local companies required to assist the investigation. The following media reports quoted the content of the report of the Los Angles Times, which was not based on facts. When FBI conducted the case-related investigation in the water and power authorities of Los Angles in July 2019, Oceanwide also published an announcement on no linkage with the case.”
The head added, since Oceanwide provided relevant materials as required, the law enforcement authority of the U.S. has so far not got any touch with Oceanwide concerning the case.
None of the bribe-giving real estate developers in the affidavit is Oceanwide
According to the press release of the U.S. Attorney’s Office on June 23, 2020, Huizar was arrested on a federal racketeering charge that alleges he led a criminal enterprise that used his powerful position at City Hall to solicit and accept lucrative bribes and other financial benefits to enrich himself and his close associates in exchange for Huizar taking official actions favorable to the developers and others who financed and facilitated the bribes.
Huizar has represented Council District 14 (CD-14) of Los Angeles since 2005, and was dubbed by the media as a heavyweight of the city for nearly two decades. Therefore, in this case, Huizar and his inner-circle were referred to as the CD-14 Enterprise.
Huizar also chaired the Planning and Land Use Management Committee of the LA City Council which oversees and approves real estate development projects in the city. So, Huizar was a very influential and powerful political figure in Los Angles.
The affidavit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office refers to the four bribe-offering real estate developers as C, D, E and M and lists the specific information about their projects. Based on the fully-disclosed details of the case, the four companies are not all Chinese ones, and it is quite easy to identify who they are.
The head of Oceanwide said, the location, development content, scale and time of Oceanwide’s LA project are fundamentally different from the introductions of the affidavit to relevant companies and projects, which can sufficiently prove Oceanwide is not among the four developers stated in the affidavit.
Oceanwide Holdings published a re-announcement
On the afternoon of July 4, Oceanwide Holdings re-announced on its official microblog, “The 172-page report of the FBI mentioned in the media report is actually an affidavit of the U.S. Attorney against a city Council member of Los Angles. The whole text of the affidavit has been made public. It does not mention Our Company or Our Company’s real estate development projects, and the investigation has not resulted in any allegations or charges against Our Company or Our Company’s employees,” further emphasizing that Oceanwide Holdings has no linkage with the case.
Oceanwide Holdings stressed in the Re-announcement that “Our Company reserves all legal rights to take further actions against any organization or individual who misleads the public by disseminating false or inaccurate reports that may cause damage to us.”
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