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Fabricated bank adds to China’s list of fakery
His claims also cheered his hometown, the eastern city of Wenzhou, which was reeling from a government-imposed credit crunch that had ruined some highly leveraged entrepreneurs, some of whom fled the city and their debts. A few committed suicide.
“People were shocked that an obscure businessman bought a foreign bank and it was a U.S. bank nonetheless. He wasn’t even a banker to begin with,” said Zhu Xiaochuan, a researcher on China’s financial law at CEIBS Lujiazui Institute of International Finance in Shanghai. “The news must be credible because it was in mainstream media. The public were amazed how wealthy Wenzhou businessmen were.”
A profile on the website of the ruling Communist Party’s newspaper People’s Daily depicts Lin as sharp and hardworking, selling buttons as a teenager, then purchasing a copper and gold mine in Ghana and investing in the rice business in China. The profile is still available online.
Lin said he renamed the bank USA New HSBC Federation Consortium Inc. and that the institution had already attracted $40 million in deposits with the prospect of turning an annual profit of $5 million to $6 million. The new name had an air of respectability, borrowing from the London-based global banking giant HSBC Holdings, whose brand is well-known in China.
The story attracted so much attention that Chinese journalists familiar with U.S. banking regulations checked into the legitimacy of Lin’s claims. They found no Atlantic Bank in Delaware and that Lin’s New HSBC was not licensed to offer banking services in Delaware.
When his nonexistent bank was exposed in March, Lin told reporters he made “exaggerations” to raise his social status and to win future opportunities in banking.
Lin is not known to have made any money off his bank claims, but after they were shown to be false he apparently became a target in a police campaign to crack down on economic crimes.
A statement on the Wenzhou police bureau’s website said he is suspected of having falsified invoices worth of hundreds of millions of yuan (tens of millions of dollars) through several of his companies in a tax-evading scheme.
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