Before I go any further with this piece I must confirm in the strongest terms that there is no official legal connection between Wang Yaohui and either Birmingham City Football Club or Birmingham Sports Holdings Ltd.
While information contained within this article has been confirmed by multiple sources (or where possible by public domain documents), I am making no explicit or implicit accusation that Wang Yaohui is a “person who has Control over the affairs of [Birmingham City]” as per Appendix 3 of the Football League regulations. I am merely trying to identify a potential person of interest to Birmingham City fans in the name of transparency.
What is known about Wang Yaohui
According to public information, Wang was born on June 11, 1966 in Qiqihar City, Heilongjiang province. The (albeit slightly dated) image shown above of Wang was taken from Baidu and has been identified by two completely different sources who have met “Mr King” as being him.
While there are no solid facts online about how Wang came to be wealthy, it is known he founded Zhonghui Guohua Industrial (Group) Co Ltd (now known as Sino-Thai Huafeng Industry (Group) Ltd) in 1999.
In 2004, Zhonghui Investment Co Ltd, under the control of Wang, signed an agreement with Tianzhu Town Government to cooperate in the construction of the Tianzhu Business Garden Project.
At the same time, another company listing Wang Yaohui as legal representative named Beijing Blue Harbor Real Estate Co. Ltd bought a highly sought after piece of land within the Chaoyang district of Beijing for a starting price of just over 1 Billion RMB. The property is 11.2 hectares of land and now contains the Blue Harbour International Business District SOLANA Commercial Center. It was completed by the end of 2007 and opened in 2008.
Wang was also an investor in the Beijing-Tianjin-Tanggu Expressway in 2005, and was a prominent, albeit controversial art collector.
Blue Harbour were to come to prominence in 2013 when it was reported by Caixin in the Chinese media that the former deputy-head of the state-owned Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) Yang Kun had been taking bribes from Blue Harbour to lend money to them for the development of the SOLANA shopping centre.
Yang was alleged to have taken “tens of millions” of RMB in return for extending 3 billion RMB of loans to the company. Caixin alleged that executives at ABC were concerned some of this cash might be “missing” and that Wang Yaohui “owe[d] big gambling debts”.
Details of bribes given include HK$2million handed over in 2008, a 4kg bag of gold bullion in 2009 and a painting worth 1.8million RMB in 2010.
Yang Kun was subsequently expelled from the Communist Party in May 2013.
“Wang [Yaohui] has been taken for investigation by relevant departments several times and found his enthusiasm in excessive gambling and once lost at least 3 billion yuan at a Macau casino.”
There has been speculation that the investigation into the loans was triggered by an investigation into Wang’s “excessive gambling habits“, with Chinese banking industry sources claiming Wang was investigated several times from February 2012.
Wang was a member of the Tenth CPPCC National Committee in Heilongjiang Province.
Since 2013 there is very little information available online about Wang, within Chinese or any other language media.
Wang Yaohui and Zhao Wenqing
Wang has connections to members of the Birmingham City board.
Zhao Wenqing is Chairman and Executive Director of Birmingham Sports Holdings, and also a director of Birmingham City FC. In the recent circular regarding the upcoming Annual General Meeting, BSH chairman Zhao Wenqing has a sparse bio listed about him. It confirms that:
Mr. Zhao, aged 51, joined the Company as an Executive Director on 15 October 2016 and is the Chairman of the Board. He is also a director of various subsidiaries of the Company. Mr. Zhao holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Beijing University of Iron and Steel Technology (now known as University of Science and Technology Beijing) and a Master of Engineering degree from University of Science and Technology Beijing in the People’s Republic of China (the “PRC”). Mr. Zhao had worked as the head of risk management department and the chief accountant in Beijing Centergate Technologies (Holding) Co., Ltd. (北京中關村科技發展(控股)股份有限公司), a company listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange with stock code 931.
However, further research of company documents publicly searchable by the Chinese search engine Baidu.com shows that Mr King is also a director and shareholder of several private limited companies within mainland China.
Three of them are of interest with respect to establishing a link between Zhao and Wang.
Firstly, 北京睿朗阳光网络科技有限公司 (Beijing Rui Lang Sunshine Network Technology Co., Ltd.), who operate www.sunloto.com, a large Chinese lottery services company.
That company lists among its shareholders, 赵文清 – Zhao Wenqing.
There is circumstantial confirmation that this is the same Zhao as the one who works for BSH by looking at the name of the legal representative, who is listed as卡拉夫提斯, which transliterates as Ka la fu ti sin – better known as Zac Karlaftis.
Karlaftis is (according to LinkedIn) director of business development at BSHL. He has also been in the past PR for Wozhongla, a website operated by Sunloto.
Checking of information with contacts in Hong Kong and Beijing have confirmed that Zhao is indeed a director of SunLoto.
Using links from these details in publicly searchable documentation online, it is also possible to find that Zhao is a director of 北京蓝色港湾置业有限公司. This is the aforementioned-Blue Harbour Real Estate Company, and thus becomes the obvious connection between Zhao and Wang.
Blue Harbour is still 100% owned by Yongtai Jinfeng Investment Co Ltd, which in turn is 100% owned by Zhonghui Guohua, which still lists Wang as a shareholder.
Zhao is also listed as a director of Beijing Jingfa Real Estate Development Co Ltd, which is also owned by Yongtai Jinfeng and thus has also has Wang as a shareholder.
While I must stress again that there is no official legal connection between Birmingham City or Birmingham Sports Holdings and Wang Yaohui, I have legitimate concerns that this man has been identified by two different sources as the shadowy “Mr King”.
It’s my understanding that Wang has been at the ground to watch at least one game in the past two months, and that Wang met former manager Harry Redknapp on several occasions during his spell as manager.
As with the case of Darren Dein, I would like the club to confirm or deny any connection that Wang does have with the club, if only to reassure fans that the consistent rumours that have come from within St Andrew’s over the past few months have no real merit.
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