Nine murder charges, among others, have been brought against 36 alleged gang members including Liu Han, the former head of the mining conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group, according to Xinhua, which described the bust as the largest mafia-style criminal organization to be prosecuted in recent years in China.
The gang is believed to have been led by the billionaire oil tycoon and his brother, Liu Wei, and has been active since 1993, according to Xinhua.
Liu Han has been detained since March 2013, and the Xianning People’s Procuratorate in Hubei province on Thursday filed charges against the defendants including murder, intentional assault, illegal detention, extortion and casino crimes. Police seized 20 guns and three hand grenades from gang members.
According to prosecutors, “the defendants also did everything possible to entice and corrupt state officials, to seek their protection, and to consolidate and widen their influence on society”, Xinhua reports.
Liu Han, who ranked 148th on Forbe’s 2012 list of the richest Chinese businesspeople, used to be a delegate of Sichuan’s political advisory body and was famous for his philanthropy, specifically for the work he did after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
He is chairman of the boards of the Hanlong Group, Sichuan’s biggest private enterprise, and owns numbers of subsidiary companies, putting is worth at an estimated tens of billions of yuan.
News of the prosecutions “has sent temors through Sichuan’s political and business circles,” according to Xinhua, and several provincial-linked officials have been investigated by the authorities in recent months following Liu Han’s arrest, including Ji Wenlin, the vice-governor of Hainan province, and Li Chongxi, chair of Sichuan’s Chinese People’s Political Consultive Conference.