Shanxi rich man accused of fraud

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A coal baron who was the richest man in coal-rich Shanxi province is suspected of having left the country on a false passport and is wanted by police.

Zhang Xinming, chairman of the Shanxi Jinye Coal & Coking Group, was discovered to have obtained a false ID card and a false passport in Henan, under the name of Zhu Lei. Zhang, 47, is now on the Henan provincial public security bureau's wanted list, Henan's Zhengzhou Evening News reported on Saturday.

He used the fake documents repeatedly to visit Macao and some foreign countries.

Zhang is suspected of fraudulently obtaining exit and entry documents, according to the national fugitive database, which was quoted in the news report.

In recent years, Zhang was among the richest people in the country according to the Hurun Rich List and the Forbes China Rich List.

In 2005, he ranked seventh on the Hurun China Energy List, with a fortune of 1 billion yuan ($150 million).

Zhang was born into a farm family in the village of Wu'ermao in Shanxi province and was still a coal miner in the 1980s. He started the Jinye Group as a family business, from scratch in the mid-1990s, by getting his foot in the door of the coal transportation business using railways. He then expanded gradually into coke production and coal mining.

In 2002, he founded a coking plant in Gujiao, Shanxi province, and later purchased coal mines there. His wealth grew rapidly with the country's soaring demand for energy resources, the news report said.

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