Oct 13, 2020 - World

Chinese oligarch's company with ties to George W. Bush's brother plunges in value

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

On Friday, shares of Hong Kong Finance Investment Holding Group Ltd. plummeted, Bloomberg reported. The company is involved in real estate and natural resources.

Why it matters: Neil Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush, sits on the company's board as deputy chairman. Neil Bush's ties to Chinese-owned companies have drawn public scrutiny and once landed a super PAC supporting his brother Jeb Bush in hot water.

  • Hong Kong Finance Investment stock fell by up to 90% on Friday, until the company requested that trading be suspended. Bloomberg reported that the drop came in advance of an announcement about “a very substantial disposal of the company.”

More intrigue: In August, the company chairman, Hui Chi Ming, was charged with physically assaulting a Hong Kong-based British man in March of this year. Hui was also charged with criminal damage for smashing the British man's cellphone.

The backdrop: Hong Kong Finance Investment Holding Group Ltd. is incorporated in Bermuda, and in April 2020 announced that it had acquired exclusive mining rights for sand mining in the Kikori Delta in Papua New Guinea.

Hui is a colorful figure. He often goes by "Dr. Hui," a reference to the doctoral degree he holds from the Russian Academy of Sciences.

  • Hui has served as the Honorary Consul of Madagascar in Hong Kong, and he's served as an adviser to the prime minister of Madagascar.
  • He is politically active in mainland China and has served for several years as a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, one of two pseudo-representative bodies that meet annually in Beijing.
  • In 2009, Forbes included Hui on their annual "400 Richest Chinese" list, putting his net worth at $815 million.
  • He even has a planet named after him, according to his profile on the company website — the minor planet No. 5390, "Hui Chi Ming Planet."

In 2014, Hui was embroiled in a scandal in Madagascar, when the country’s National Environment Office said that MSPC, a different company owned by Hui, had caused serious environmental damage and had purchased oil land in violation of code (MSPC disputed the claims).

The Bush connection: As deputy chairman, Neil Bush is paid an annual stipend that has ranged from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2019, he was paid approximately $77,000, according to the company's 2019 annual report posted on its website.

  • Hui and Bush did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

What to watch: Perhaps the announcement that Hong Kong Finance Investment Holding Group said it would soon release will shed some light on the stock woes.

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