The Globe and Mail confirmed with the local tax office in Wuhan that the sequential tax receipts Mr. Huang obtained were indeed issued by the Home Inn. The hotel itself confirmed that someone with the name of Feng Yi, the PSB officer who led the investigation of Mr. Huang, checked out of the hotel on Feb. 10 and paid a bill of 493.30 Chinese yuan, an amount identical to that on the receipts provided by Mr. Huang.
A similar paper trail appears to exist for a later trip to Chengdu. Luoyang PSB officers escorted Mr. Huang to the southwestern city so they could interview other researchers. The room bill for a March 13 stay at the Kang Ting Wen Miao Hotel in Chengdu is made out to Feng Yi, but the matching tax receipt, seen by The Globe and Mail, is made out to Henan Found Mining. The red stamps on the receipt match the numbered stamp issued to the hotel by the National Administration for Code Allocation in Beijing.
Mr. Huang claimed Officer Feng was at times less-than-guarded in front of him, at one point asking someone over the phone if someone from the mining company could provide a car. The next day, Mr. Huang was driven to Zhengzhou, a city 150 kilometres away from Luoyang, in a black Lexus 240. Mr. Huang wrote down the licence plate number and, according to a search conducted for The Globe and Mail by a private investigator in China, the plate number belongs to a black Lexus owned by Henan Found Mining.
Silvercorp’s apparent financial backing of a Chinese police investigation, if proved, and the sharing of information between Chinese law enforcement officials and a private company, could represent a violation of Canadian law, according to legal experts. Mr. Huang’s Chinese lawyer claimed such tactics would also be a clear violation of Chinese law, although she said it’s not a widely enforced section of the country’s criminal code.
Chinese law stipulates that police cannot accept any form of payment for an investigation, including having an outside party pay for an officer’s expenses. “It’s illegal,” Ms. Wang said of Silvercorp allegedly subsidizing the PSB investigation against Mr. Huang. “But this kind of behaviour is taken as common practice in China.”
Such accusations might have more weight in Canada. Milos Barutciski, an expert on international corruption cases, said the documents obtained by The Globe and Mail suggest Silvercorp’s actions “may also contravene Canadian law where related acts or communications have occurred in Canada.”
In mid-March, Silvercorp, which was already suing EOS and its founder Jon Carnes in the Supreme Court of New York, filed a motion to obtain documents from Royal Bank of Canada and RBC Dominion Securities. In the filing, which was withdrawn about two weeks after it was first made, Silvercorp provided what appeared to be 44 phone numbers and 20 addresses. The filing asked that RBC be ordered to provide any trading account numbers and contact information associated with the phone numbers and addresses.
Mr. Huang says the list filed by Silvercorp’s lawyers could only have come from a contact list he keeps on his laptop, which has been out of his hands since it was seized at Beijing airport. “They even had my boss’s wife’s Asia Air Miles number [appearing as a phone number in the court filing],” Mr. Huang said. “They could only have gotten it from my laptop.”
Mr. Huang says he confronted Officer Feng at one point about Silvercorp’s involvement in the investigation. He said the PSB agent’s reply was aggressive. “He said, ‘You have to take responsibility for what you have done. This company is very powerful at the local level. They pay a lot of tax to the local government and Luoyang is a very poor city. They contribute a lot to the local economy.’ ”
But Silvercorp CEO Feng Rui said his company had no involvement in helping to pay for the PSB investigation of Mr. Huang and his associates. He insisted that Mr. Huang, Mr. Carnes and others are fabricating the evidence.