(Yicai Global) March 21 -- After having been missing for nearly eight months, Zhao Weiguo, former chairman of Chinese chip-making giant Tsinghua Unigroup, has been delivered to prosecutors on suspicion of work-related crimes, according to China’s top anti-corruption watchdog.
Zhao, who worked at Tsinghua Unigroup for over 10 years, treated the state-owned firm he managed as his private property during his tenure, according to a document the State Supervision Commission of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection released yesterday.
He illegally entrusted the company’s profitable business to relatives and friends, purchased goods from units operated and managed by relatives and friends at prices significantly higher than market prices, and instructed directors to carry out acts detrimental to the interests of the listed company, causing particularly heavy losses to the interests of the state, the CCDI added.
Last August, the CCDI said that both past and present executives of Sino IC Capital, the Beijing-based firm managing China’s largest state-owned chip fund with which Zhao had close ties, were being probed for suspected lawbreaking. Zhao was taken by authorities for investigation during that time, according to media reports.
Zhao became chairman of Tsinghua Unigroup in 2013. The first phase of the National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund, or the Big Fund, was set up in 2014. In the following five to six years, Zhao led Tsinghua Unigroup through about 60 mergers and acquisitions, several of which obtained investment from the Big Fund.
Zhao was dubbed ‘the chip maniac’ in the industry. Tsinghua Unigroup’s assets peaked in 2019 at nearly CNY300 billion (USD43.6 billion).
Due to the difficulty in realizing returns on its chip investments in the short term, the Beijing-based group ran into a cash crunch in 2020. In July 2021, Tsinghua Unigroup was ruled bankrupt and restructured on court orders.
Although Zhao had stepped down from various positions in the group since 2018, he still publicly questioned the restructuring, arguing that the plan undervalued the company.
Yicai Global interviewed Zhao at the company’s headquarters in late 2021. He said that he had built Tsinghua Unigroup by himself, but the bankruptcy administrator had completely isolated him from the issue, which made him unhappy.
In the document released yesterday, the CCDI noted that Zhao “regarded the state-owned enterprise he managed as his private property”.
Last April, in Yicai Global’s last contact with Zhao, he said that he no longer cared about Tsinghua Unigroup’s bankruptcy restructuring.
Editors: Shi Yi, Peter Thomas