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Chinese investor under banking scrutiny for money-laundering

A Chinese ‘investor’ at the helm of a company called Level Constellation is under increased scrutiny this month following an alert sent out to all banks in May, warning that the operation is suspected of money-laundering.

According to Expresso, the Bank of Portugal ‘alert’ warns that “any transaction or movement of capital made in the company’s name through financial entities operating in Portugal should be immediately communicated to the Public Ministry and Judicial Police”.

If banks do not comply, the warning is that they risk being “made responsible in any future BdP audits”.

National weekly Expresso explains, Level Constellation has Chinese millionaire Zheng Yonggang as one of its ‘main shareholders’.

As the head of the Chinese fashion chain Shanshan, Yonggang is also described as one of Asia’s largest exporters of Lithium batteries.

The businessman was in Portugal in May representing Shanghai’s association of young entrepreneurs. He was even cited by Lusa as having a lunch-date with prime minister António Costa.

This was specifically refuted by an official source, but during the same visit to Portugal, Yonggang found his way into the sporting press, affirming that a number of Chinese clubs were poised to enter into partnership deals with Benfica FC “which could generate the club substantial sums”.

Under analysis were the “construction of new sporting infrastructures, participation in player transfers and the training of young players”, he told reporters.

An official source at the club said that while it was open to outside investment, it had not heard of Level Constellation, let alone entered into any kind of negotiations.

But, beyond the mention of Benfica, Expresso claims Yonggang has talked about “investing €10 billion in various areas of Portugal”.

He also mentioned high-level talks in Madrid, “with Luís Figo, the leader of Real Madrid Florentino Peréz”.

This was not the first time Level Constellation hit the Portuguese news, the paper added.

It was mentioned last year for “investing strongly in the property sector” and for being interested in various properties owned by Novo Banco.

At the end of 2015, the company claimed to have a portfolio of properties valued at €20 million, says Expresso – one of these being the former premises of Santander Totta in Lisbon’s fashionable Baixa district.

Earlier this year, Level Constellation also announced its intention to invest between €100 million and €150 million in “one single development of large dimensions, built from scratch in the centre of Lisbon”.

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