Former CCTV host linked to French villa

(insert) Former CCTV host Jiang Feng.

BEIJING - A former television host who was on a Chinese team that won an inter-university debate in Singapore has found herself in the spotlight once more.

During the five-day trial of Bo Xilai which ended on Monday, a court heard that Ms Jiang Feng, 43, became a nominal owner of companies set up to oversee the French luxury villa given to Bo's wife Gu Kailai as a bribe.

The three interlinked paper companies were to ensure that the six-bedroom Villa Fontaine Saint Georges in Cannes could not be traced to the Bo family, the court in eastern Jinan city was told.

Gu got two associates, French architect Patrick Devillers and later British businessman Neil Heywood, to front the firms and hold the villa on her behalf.

By 2011, however, she grew suspicious of both men and told Dalian businessman Xu Ming, who then asked Ms Jiang, a former China Central TV (CCTV) host, to take over the companies.

A native of north-eastern Liaoning province where Bo was governor in the early 2000s, Ms Jiang said she met Mr Devillers in 2011 at a law firm in Paris to put the ownership of two of the three firms under her name.

"At that time, I didn't really know the details of the property as the documents were in French and I didn't really pay attention," she said in her written testimony.

She said she later asked Xu about the villa when he visited her in London and he mentioned to her once that it belonged to Gu.

Her cameo turn at the trial has renewed media interest in Ms Jiang and confirmed earlier talk that she has a romantic relationship with Xu.

Ms Jiang, who has a doctorate from Cambridge University, became a British citizen after marrying Briton Richard Dolby in 2004, said The Daily Telegraph. They have a pair of twins, but it is not known if they have separated.

However, in her written testimony, Ms Jiang said she and Xu "confirmed a relationship with the aim of marriage" in 2010.

In an apparent reference to Xu, once ranked among China's richest men, she wrote on her Sina Weibo account on Sunday: "I won't fall in love with someone because of (his) wealth, but I also won't reject someone because of (his) wealth."

She was a member of a debating team from Shanghai's Fudan University that won the inaugural International Varsity Debates held in Singapore in 1993.

The team beat the one from National Taiwan University in the finals. Its coach for the competition was university professor Wang Huning, now a member of China's elite 25-member Politburo.

hoaili@sph.com.sg


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