Missing China chief of PR firm Edelman returns to family

Missing China chief of PR firm Edelman returns to family

BEIJING - The China chief of US public relations firm Edelman, who had been reported missing since August after he began assisting authorities with an unspecified investigation, has returned to his family, the company said on Wednesday.

Steven Cao, who cofounded the Edelman subsidiary Pegasus Public Relations Consulting, was detained during the summer, and Edelman had said it did not know where he was.

Cao co-founded Pegasus along with embattled celebrity news anchor Rui Chenggang and another partner. Rui was detained in July amid a broader corruption probe into state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), where he hosted a popular financial news programme.

"We learned that Steven Cao has returned to his family,"Edelman said in an e-mailed statement. "He is spending private time with his family."

Asked whether the firm still employed Cao, Edelman said it did not discuss the employment status of current or former employees. It did not say where Cao had been since August.

Edelman previously said Cao was cooperating with authorities on the investigation.

Edelman acquired Pegasus in 2007. It has said it expected Rui, who was working at CCTV at the time, to divest his minority shares right away. But Rui did not sell off his stake to Cao until three years later, Edelman said.

Rui is among several employees to be swept up in a wider investigation into CCTV. Pegasus had also said Cao was cooperating with authorities on an inquiry, without saying what it was about.

President Xi Jinping has vowed to take down powerful"tigers" as well as lowly "flies" in an anti-graft campaign, warning, as have other leaders before him, that pervasive corruption threatens the survival of the ruling Communist Party.

Rui is known for his nationalistic rhetoric, and is famous for starting a movement to oust a Starbucks outlet from Beijing's historic Forbidden City. Starbucks Corp. is a client of Edelman.

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