China launches website to aid $7.6 billion Ezubao fraud probe

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Image: China’s national flag is seen in front of a poster explaining the design of new 100 yuan banknote at a branch of a commercial bank at a business district in Beijing, China, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

 

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Ministry of Public Security has launched a website to help probe Ezubao, the country’s biggest online peer-to-peer (P2P) lender, which is accused of defrauding 900,000 investors of more than 50 billion yuan ($7.61 billion). 

The website, opened to the public on Saturday, will help Chinese police gather information and establish facts about Ezubao, which “involves a large number of investors dispersed across the country, with huge amounts of electronic information,” according to its homepage said.

Executives at Ezubao’s parent company admitted in comments carried by official news agency Xinhua early this month that it was “a complete Ponzi scheme” that used investor funds to support their lavish lifestyles.

The alleged scam underscores the risks in China’s fast growing and loosely regulated wealth management product industry, with many products peddled through online financial investment platforms and privately run exchanges.

More than 400 billion yuan had been raised by more than 3,600 P2P platforms by the end of November, according to the China Banking Regulatory Commission. More than 1,000 of those firms were problematic, it’said.

($1 = 6.5710 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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