Lin Chunping [File photo]
A businessman from Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, who claimed to have acquired a bank in the U.S., is under fire for having fabricated the story.
Lin Chunping, a member of the Wenzhou Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made headlines last month when he said in a report that he successfully acquired a failing U.S. bank in Delaware.
Lin did not provide the name of the bank in the initial report. After rising to fame for having supposedly broken ground in becoming the first Chinese national to own an American bank, he was asked to provide details about the acquisition.
"Under the pressure of the public opinion, I have to release the name of the U.S. bank that I negotiated with: Atlantic Banking Corporation. I could be fined of a large amount of money due to the leaking of secret," Lin wrote on his micro-blog.
Lin said the bank had been doing business for 85 years before the transaction. He also claimed that he had changed the bank's name after acquisition was complete – to USA New HSBC Federation Consortium Inc.
However, the only bank associated with the name Atlantic Banking Corporation went bankrupt on March 1, 1984, and was subsequently acquired by Bank of America, the second biggest bank in the U.S.
However, "Atlantic Banking Corporation" is not found in the registry at the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Both institutions are required to insure and regulate banks operating in the U.S.
Under intense scrutiny, Lin said in a phone interview: "It's true that I intended to buy a U.S. bank and it is on-going now." He said running banking business has always been a dream for him, and he has submitted an application to acquire the bank and is waiting for the approval.
Lin said "USA New HSBC Federation Consortium Inc." is a newly-registered, general-purpose company that is not licensed for banking. He added the company currently does not have any business operations.
"I will turn it into a bank in the future," Lin said. "I'm sure that I'll do it. It's just a matter of time."
The Wenzhou businessman's first step in his quest may be shopping for office space. The listed address of his company is the address for the law firm which handled Lin's license registration, for a US$313 fee. Lawyer John Williams said his firm has no other connection with Lin's company or has given permission for Lin to move into the firm in Wilmington, Delaware.
Lin said that the registered address is only a temporary one, and he will move the company to his recent-bought villa in Dover, Delaware, which is currently being remodeled.
Lin said he regretted to have announced the acquisition ahead of the time, because the whole procedure was not yet complete. He also put the blame on the media.
"It was not my original intention to arouse such a big roar. It was the media who hyped the news."