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Crafar buyer cleared of underworld link

12:51 Fri Apr 20 2012

New Zealand diplomats working with China's Ministry of Public Security have cleared Jiang Zhaobai, owner of Crafar farms buyer Shanghai Pengxin Group, of a historic underworld connection in validating his good character.

Documents released on Friday with the NZ ministerial approval of the sale said a diplomat at the New Zealand embassy in Beijing was tasked with checking out an anonymous submission that claimed Jiang had links with a Shanghai gang boss, Xiao di Zhou.

The diplomat, whose name was blacked out from the public version of the document, made inquiries with China's Ministry of Public Security, which had no record of any convictions in respect of Jiang or Shanghai Pengxin, the Land Information New Zealand report said.

The embassy official did confirm a historic connect between Shanghai Pengxin and Xiao.

"SPGL and Mr Xiao both appear to have acquired land from a corrupt official - the official did not own the land and had no right to sell it," the report said.

"There was no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of SPGL."

The embassy official said there was evidence Xiao committed offences including hiring someone to assault a business associate.

Xiao is currently serving 14 years jail related to illegal land sales and assault.

Other directors of the companies in the group which includes Shanghai Pengxin were given the all clear in terms of the good character test, the report said.

Jiang, a Shanghai-based property and diversified investor, is listed as China's 284th richest man, according to Forbes.