Police in eastern China on Monday refuted reports that a British businessman had been illegally held in China in a business dispute, in which a Chinese company has insisted it was the victim.
Zhang Weikang, an economic crime officer in Zhenhai sub-bureau of Ningbo City Public Security Bureau, told Xinhua the bureau questioned the businessman and his alleged abductors, but they believed no crime had been committed and suggested the parties resolve their dispute either by negotiation or in court.
Anil Srivastav, of the British company Goldarrow Metals Ltd., was stopped by Meng Zhenghui, of Guanghe company, when Srivastav tried to slip away on Oct. 17, the second day after he arrived in Ningbo and failed to solve the dispute, said Zhang.
The metal recycling company Guanghe, with import and export company Ningbo Baoyi as intermediary, signed a 3.68-million-yuan (538,800 U.S. dollars) contract with Goldarrow to buy scrap metal containing at least 50 percent copper in July.
However, Guanghe claimed it found only aluminium and iron in the scrap in October. Guanghe, which had paid in advance, asked Goldarrow to send someone to China to check and negotiate compensation.
Srivastav admitted quality problems in the transaction, but gave no commitment on compensation issues, said Zhang. He left a local hotel without informing Guanghe early on Oct. 17.
Fearing huge losses, Guanghe general manager Meng Zhenghui drove to Shanghai Pudong International Airport and stopped Srivastav, telling him, "We have complained to the police and please go back with us to the police station."
During Srivastav's stay in Ningbo, Meng said he had accompanied Srivastav to bars, shops and the wedding of a friend. "He was impressed, calling us forgiving Chinese friends."
Srivastav admitted Goldarrow owed Guanghe 340,000 dollars, and proposed giving Guanghe shipping documents worth 210,000 dollars and paying the remaining 130,000 dollars within a week of his return to Britain, said Meng.
Meng insisted Srivastav had "lied" to British media that he came to China to collect 1.2 million dollars in payments, was "kidnapped" and then "released" after Goldarrow paid a ransom of 350,000 dollars, Meng said.
"How can it be possible for us to bring the case to police and then kidnap a foreigner?" Meng said.
Bao Zhongjie, head of the exit and entry department of Ningbo Public Security Bureau, said they received a letter from the British consulate in Shanghai early this month inquiring whether Srivastav had been kidnapped.
"We responded that it was a business dispute, and there was no violence. The so-called kidnap was untrue," Bao said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 24, 2008)