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China's richest man 'under investigation'

  • Story Highlights
  • Newspapers report China's richest man being investigated by police
  • Trading in his company, Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd, is halted
  • Investigation involves allegations of stock market manipulation
  • Wong Kwong Yu topped China Rich List in three of last five years
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Trading in a Chinese electrical appliances company was halted Monday after reports that its chairman -- the richest man in mainland China -- is under investigation on charges of stock market manipulation, the company said.

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong indefinitely halted trading in Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. amid reports of a police investigation of Wong Kwong Yu, the company's chairman, executive director and controlling shareholder, the company said in a statement.

The company said it was looking into whether the allegations were true.

The 39-year-old Wong is the richest person in mainland China, worth an estimated $6.3 billion, according to the 2008 China Rich List, which is compiled by the Hurun Institute.

He topped the list for the third time in five years; the China Rich List was first compiled in 1999.

The Beijing News reported that Wong is under police investigation for stock market manipulation, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper. Police declined to comment on the report, China Daily said.

Gome Electrical Appliances said it "is not in a position to confirm the accuracy of the information set out in the newspaper articles."

It also said it "has not received any notice or legal documents in connection with the allegations from any regulatory, governmental or judicial authority in the People's Republic of China."

The company said trading was suspended Monday "to avoid any disorderly market and volatility in the securities of the company that may result from further release of unverified allegations in the media." It said it is "making necessary inquiries for the purpose of verifying the allegations."

Established in 1987, Gome said it had 587 stores last year in 160 Chinese cities -- 572 traditional stores, 13 digital stores and two flagship stores. The company was incorporated in Bermuda, according to Gome's Web site.

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