A prominent Vancouver real estate developer wanted by the Chinese government on corruption charges has made numerous political contributions over the years, particularly to the B.C. and federal Liberal parties, and also has a daughter who heads the provincial branch of the Young Liberals of Canada.
Michael Ching Mo Yeung, who founded several real estate companies after arriving in British Columbia from China and has built business relationships with some of the province's big real estate players, has donated roughly $17,000 to various political parties and leadership campaigns since 2007.
In late April, Mr. Ching was named in a list of the top 100 fugitives wanted by the Chinese government on suspicions of graft, bribery and other corruption charges. The Chinese government – which calls him Cheng Muyang, the Mandarin version of Ching Mo Yeung, the Cantonese-style name he now uses – has been conducting a widespread crackdown on corruption at home. Mr. Ching, who has worked on several developments in B.C. including the Collection 45 condo in Vancouver's trendy Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, is reported to be the son of Cheng Weigao, a former governor of China's Hebei province who was expelled from the party on corruption charges in 2003.
In a statement, Mr. Ching's Vancouver lawyer David Lunny has denied the graft charges levelled against his client, and says Mr. Ching has been an "exemplary and upright" member of the community who made political contributions because he "strongly believes in Canadian democratic values and has a firm confidence in the rule of law in Canada." The statement, which does not mention Mr. Ching's father, stresses that Mr. Ching himself was never a state official, that he came here in 1996 and never fled or hid, and suggests that the charges are political.
"The accusations which are now made against him by the Chinese government and repeated in the media here are without foundation and they emanated only after a change in the leadership of the Chinese political regime," the statement reads. "Anyone familiar with the inadequacies and failings of the criminal justice system in China would certainly endorse his reluctance to place himself at its mercy."
Mr. Ching, through his companies and as an individual, has contributed relatively small sums over the years. According to Elections B.C. and Elections Canada documents, Mr. Ching donated $1,200 to Justin Trudeau's Liberal leadership campaign and at least $7,000 to the B.C. Liberal Party. At an event held by the Canada Asia Pacific Business Association in Richmond, B.C., he was photographed with former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and former B.C. premier and Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh.
"We are taking the issue seriously," said Liberal spokesman Olivier Duchesneau. "We are currently in touch with Elections Canada regarding the appropriate measures to take in regards to his donations."
Ms. Ching's daughter Linda Ching, whose LinkedIn profile says she has worked at Magnum Projects, a real estate marketing firm that has done work with Mr. Ching's Mo Yeung International Enterprise Ltd., is currently the head of the Young Liberals of Canada B.C. She did not respond to a message, but the Liberal Party said her term ends May 27.
Mr. Ching, however, also donated $400 to the federal Conservative association in Richmond, where he was building a large commercial complex, and $1,100 to the association in Abbotsford, B.C., which is International Trade Minister Ed Fast's riding. He also donated nearly $3,000 to Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie and gave $10 to the municipal party of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
In a statement, Conservative Party spokesperson Cory Hann said: "We expect people donating to the Conservative Party are doing so truthfully and lawfully, following all rules, regulations and laws as set out by Elections Canada and the Elections Act."
With reports from Rick Cash