Chinese Construction Company in P100m Tax Fraud Investigation

Gazette Reporter

According to documents filed before court there is an alleged intricate network of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering in a lengthy battle around a P500 million company that is under tax investigations.

A Chinese multi-millionaire and owner of Sunshine Construction (Pty) Ltd, Jian Liu, alleges that he relocated to Canada in 2010 and left his niece and nephew as care-takers of Sunshine Construction (Pty) Ltd. Jian Liu alleges that his niece and nephew as caretakers, ran an intricate network of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering which has since implicated his company, and himself.

The interview with this publication and Liu comes after several media reports in which Liu was reportedly under investigation by the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) for alleged financial crimes.

According to sources, BURS believes that Sunshine Construction had a turnover of around P500 million between 2010 and 2018. It is also alleged that Sunshine Construction made profits exceeding P100 million during that period but only P7.5 million was surrendered as taxation to the taxman. The Botswana Gazette understands that Sunshine Construction won tenders from Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) worth more than P200 million.

In the interview Liu denied all allegations of financial crimes for which he is purportedly being investigated. In fact, he says he has fired the General Manager, the Accountant, the Cashier and the Site Foreman.

In the interview, Liu described what he says happened as the worst form of family betrayal. Liu, through his company Sunshine Construction, filed a case before Justice Gabanagae on 4 March 2020 to sue the quartet for damages.

According to Lui’s court documents he realised around December 2018 after preparation of 2018 financial statements that there were several abnormalities in the accounting of the company’s bank balances. In his Court papers, Liu, alleges that as the Director of Sunshine, he engaged Celative Business Consultancy (Pty) Ltd to conduct an intensive internal audit investigation. According to the audit report, the quartet were allegedly found to have issued false invoices, imitated and reproduced someone else’s signature, and conducted illegal transfers to companies which were neither sub-contractors nor suppliers. The auditors also claim the four colluded in destroying the company’s financial data as well as contracting certain private projects without notification and seeking permission from Liu.

Further, the audit report claims that funds exceeding P15 million were paid to companies owned by employees or where employees had interests.

Liu’s four relatives, who are the Defendants in the case before court, are accusing him of using them to transfer money outside the country. Financial transactions seen by The Botswana Gazette show that in 2010, Sunshine Construction company accounts held at Banc ABC, FNB, Stanbic Bank and Barclays Bank were used to transfer more than P10 million to Royal Bank of Canada (Swift Code) ROYCAT2, Vancouver, Canada, account, where Liu’s family is said to be residing. He is also believed to have invested in property in both Canada and New York, USA.

The four who Liu is accusing of committing these crimes, have challenged Liu to back up his case with facts. In a response to the documents they received from Lui, the four filed a request for further particulars dated 8th July 2020.

The four also requested that the plaintiff furnish them with bank statements which allegedly informed the alleged abnormalities.

Broadhurst Police station are also investigating Liu for allegedly forging Li Yong’s signature. The Botswana Gazette is in possession of statements made by Li Yong to the police. Li Yong states that Liu forged his signatures on several occasions including the date which Liu removed him as a director of Sunshine Construction on 26 April 2019. Court documents also show that Li Yong was a 27% shareholder of Sunshine Construction.

“Mr Liu says we stole from him, but we challenge him to prove that. I was also a shareholder in Sunshine Construction and I was removed illegally. We find it to be very silly as Mr. Jian Liu knows very well who the real perpetrator is,” Li Yong gave his version of events.

“At no point whatsoever did we ever make any business or financial transaction unless instructed and approved by Mr. Jian Liu singularly. At no point were we treated any differently or had what could be described as special privileges different from other employees of Sunshine Construction other than the fact that Mr. Yong Li and his wife Linlin Liu did the majority of work that made profits for the company. While working for Sunshine Construction for more than eleven (11) years, Mr. Jian Liu offered to incrementally improve my shares to ultimately reach 50% with which I was to also be given powers to authorize, approve and execute business transactions except that Mr. Jian Liu remained the sole controller of ALL payments, income information, tax issues, and a personalized process of acquiring new projects. We parted ways with Sunshine Construction in May 2019 to start our own business and we were never fired as he claims,” added Li Yong.

BURS General Manager Investigations, Compliance and Enforcement (ICE), Kaone Molapo, would not be drawn into discussing details, saying that they do not share investigations with third parties.