Bo Xilai trial: Woman from S'pore linked to mansion in Cannes

Bo Xi Lai.

A woman with a Singapore connection has emerged as part of a supporting cast in the dramatic scandal and court case of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai.

Ms Li Xiufeng was a general manager of a Singapore firm set up by Dalian Shide group's chairman Xu Ming. In late 2006, she had flown to France to help Bo's wife Gu Kailai settle matters linked to a mansion that Xu had bought for Gu in Cannes, Xu told the court on Thursday.

On Friday, Ms Li's name popped up again in the written testimony of Gu's business associate, French architect Patrick Devillers. He said Ms Li, a Singaporean, had flown to France in 2005 to help with the transfer of funds in relation to the property.

It is not known if Ms Li is indeed a Singapore citizen, and whether she still works for Xu's company.

She is one of several people linked to the leafy, three-storey French mansion with a swimming pool that is at the heart of the Bo family scandal.

Others include a girlfriend of Xu's, Mr Devillers as well as British businessman Neil Heywood, who was poisoned to death by Gu in November 2011 over a business dispute.

The Villa Fontaine Saint-Georges in Cannes was bought in 2001 for ¤2.2 million (S$3.8 million) by a company registered under the name of Mr Devillers.

The firm was further linked to various paper companies to help Gu ensure control of the property without being linked to it, so as not to create problems for Bo.

"If I don't reveal it, nobody will know or can find out that the house belongs to me," she told investigators.

But Bo knew about the mansion, she said, as she had shown him slides of it and even asked him how she should renovate the property.

She said the house was meant for their son Bo Guagua in future as she wanted him to focus on his studies and not have to tyre himself out making a living.

Gu first got Mr Devillers, then Mr Heywood, to help her manage the property and hold a stake in it on her behalf, but she later grew suspicious of both men.

"I told Xu Ming that these two foreigners are both unreliable and both have the intention of usurping my villa," she said.

Former Chongqing police chief and Bo's right-hand man Wang Lijun said in a written testimony that Gu got angry with Mr Heywood who allegedly made 7 million (S$1.5 million) to 8 million yuan a year renting out the villa but did not give her the money.

Mr Devillers noted in his testimony that the Briton in turn became angry with Gu after she asked him to transfer his stake in the French property.

He demanded that she compensate him £1.4 million (S$2.8 million) in May 2011.

Six months later, Mr Heywood was found dead in a hotel in Chongqing.

hoaili@sph.com.sg


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