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Remember that giant aluminum stockpile that sat in a Mexican desert for years before being transported to Vietnam recently?
Why it has crisscrossed the globe remains a puzzle for American executives and investigators trying to unravel the logic behind its movements.. Now, a Dallas attorney’s correspondence suggests a surprising possibility: that the stash is Chinese billionaire Liu Zhongtian’s retirement fund.
Like all Chinese citizens, Zhongtian, the 52-year-old chairman of aluminum giant China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd., isn’t supposed to move more than $50,000 a year out of the Communist Party-led country. To get around the restrictions, Chinese nationals have used Hong Kong money changers to illicitly transfer cash between bank accounts, combined their $50,000 quotas to make large-scale transfers and even carried cash across borders in suitcases.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Zhongtian developed an industrial-scale approach involving boatloads of aluminum which he stockpiled with plans to sell the metal over time, according to the Dallas attorney’s correspondence and people who have worked for Mr. Liu whose accounts are supported by shipping and corporate records.
Representatives of China Zhongwang deny that the stockpile is an attempt to move wealth out of China.