China's richest woman buys EU citizenship with 'golden passport'

Asia's richest woman among 500 Chinese wealthy elite who bought 'golden passports' via Cyprus

Yang Huiyan. (Internet photo)

Yang Huiyan. (Internet photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Leaked documents reveal that China's richest woman, Yang Huiyan (楊惠妍), has obtained European Union (EU) citizenship by purchasing a 'golden passport' in Cyprus.

According to a batch of leaked documents obtained by Al Jazeera known as the Cyprus Papers, Yang is among more than 500 high-net-worth Chinese citizens who have acquired "golden passports" by each investing at least 2 million Euros (US$2.3 million). Since the tiny island country is a member of the EU, obtaining a Cypriot passport has become a backdoor to quickly enable wealthy individuals to gain EU citizenship.

The news agency has not provided the names of all the Chinese nationals on the list, but it did release eight key figures. Yang was at the top of the list, as she is the majority shareholder of the Chinese property developer Country Garden Holdings Company Limited.

Yang is the richest woman in China, Asia, and the sixth-wealthiest in the world, with Forbes estimating her net worth in 2020 at US$20.3 billion. When a Chinese national obtains citizenship from another country, they automatically forfeit their Chinese citizenship.

Six Chinese nationals were included on Al Jazeera's list because they can be considered "politically exposed persons" (PEP) because of their membership or family's membership in the upper echelons of China's government. Yang was included because her father Yang Guoqiang (楊國強) is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and is the source of most of her wealth as founder and chairman of Country Garden.

The other five top Chinese figures on the list include Lu Wenbin (陸文彬), a representative of the Chengdu Municipal People’s Congress; Chen Anlin (陳安林), a member of the Huangpi District Political Consultative Conference in Wuhan; Fu Zhengjun (傅正軍), a member of the municipal committee of the CPPCC for the city of Jinhua in Zhejiang province; Zhao Zhenpeng (趙振鵬), a member in the local CPPCC of Binzhou in Shandong province; and Tang Yong (唐勇), current president of China Resources Power Holding.

Also revealed due to their criminal backgrounds were Li Jiadong (李家東), who has been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and Zhang Keqiang (張克強), who has been sentenced to four years in prison for fraud.

Updated : 2021-04-18 05:04 GMT+08:00