Chinese authorities raid US due diligence firm Mintz

Chinese authorities have raided US due diligence firm Mintz Group’s Beijing offices, detaining five local staff and closing its China operations, the company said in a statement.

The raid, which one person familiar with the matter said occurred on Monday, comes as the Chinese government is preparing to welcome scores of international chief executives including Tim Cook of Apple and Noel Quinn of HSBC for its annual investor conference this weekend.

“Mintz Group has not received any official legal notice regarding a case against the company and has requested that the authorities release its employees,” the company said.

Mintz said in the statement it had retained legal counsel to engage with the authorities and provide support to staff and their families.

There was no immediate comment available from the US embassy in Beijing.

Randal Phillips, who heads the Mintz Group’s activities across Asia, is listed on the group’s website as the Central Intelligence Agency’s former chief representative in China. Phillips is not based in China and it is not clear if the Beijing raid is linked to him.

The raid follows deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, which took a turn for the worse last month following a row over a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the US.

The US Congress this week also grilled the chief executive of Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok over its links to Beijing amid a growing bipartisan push to ban apps that pose security threats.

China has expressed strong opposition to any forced sale of TikTok.

Mintz said it was licensed to “conduct legitimate business in China, where we have always operated transparently, ethically and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations”.

The firm said it was ready to work with Chinese authorities to resolve any misunderstanding that might have led to the raid. “In the meantime, we continue to support our clients in Asia through other offices in the region,” the company said.

A former Mintz staff member said he had noticed official attitudes towards the company harden during the pandemic, when China mostly sealed its borders and imposed strict zero-Covid controls.

“You don’t know where the red line is,” said the staff member, whose job had mostly been to translate Chinese media reports.

China has detained investigators, analysts and journalists affiliated with foreign companies in the past. In 2018, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians — Michael Spavor, a specialist on North Korea, and Michael Kovrig, a senior adviser for International Crisis Group, a research organisation.

Those arrests followed the detention of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of telecoms equipment maker Huawei, in Canada over an extradition case. All three were eventually released.

Beijing this month has mounted a charm offensive to lure back foreign investors after economic growth slowed last year because of its strict pandemic controls and increasing tensions with the US.

Aside from this weekend’s China Development Forum, which will also be attended by international figures including Henry Kissinger, Beijing is inviting global investors to its annual international Boao Forum for Asia in southern Hainan province next week.

Additional reporting by Ryan McMorrow in Beijing, Primrose Riordan in Hong Kong and Edward White in Seoul

Most Related Links :
primenewsprint Governmental News Finance News

Source link

Back to top button