Wang Jing, the Chinese magnate who in 2013 received the concession from Daniel Ortega’s government to construct an inter-oceanic canal, has shuttered his company’s Hong Kong offices. The office of the HKND Company had previously been located in the highest skyscraper of the city. Its closing was reported by the Bloomberg news agency.
On April 18, the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., a subsidiary of a company owned by Wang, turned in its rental contract for suites on the 18th floor of the International Finance Center (IFC) on this island off the coast of mainland China. Reporter Blake Schmidt explains: “The company had renewed its rental contract for their offices for three years, beginning in 2016, with the option of extending it for another three years in accordance with the Hong Kong land registry,” The monthly rental contract was initially for 2.1 million Hong Kong dollars, approximately US $267,600.
Schmidt stated that a receptionist for Two IFC had informed him of HKND’s move last week but they “didn’t leave any information about their new address.” This luxurious building of the financial quarter houses offices of important companies like UBS Group AG and Blackstone Group.
“One of Wong’s representatives declared by telephone that the measure reflected a “change of strategy,” and added that the company would maintain operations in Hong Kong, but refused to give details of their new location. The address registered to the company is an accounting office in Kowloon. HKND didn’t respond to requests for additional comments, explained the report in Bloomberg.
Wang Jing’s franchise for the construction of an Inter-oceanic Canal in Nicaragua was awarded with almost no discussion in the National Assembly on the merits of this decision. The project was slated for completion in 2019, but up until now not even the minor works have been done. HKND maintains a timid presence in Nicaragua: they’ve never bid out for a job, and for a year now they haven’t reported on the results of their studies.
Repeal Law 840
Meanwhile, Wang Jing’s finances have suffered a number of reverses. In March of 2017, Confidencial revealed that his company had reduced their operations in the country to a minimum according to sources tied to the government and the private sector. “The information that we received from high up is that the canal is no longer going forward,” stated a government source.
Nevertheless, the rural movement continues their mobilizations to demand the repeal of law #840. In addition to awarding rights for canal construction and the expropriation of lands along the canal route for a period of 50 years that can be extended, the law contemplates a concession for carrying out seven sub-projects, among them ports, oil pipelines, free trade zones and tourist areas that could be realized in any part of the national territory.
The farmers’ movement, centered mainly in the zones around south-central Nicaragua – Nueva Guinea, San Miguelito and Punta Gorda – has held over 90 marches protesting against the canal project. As a result, for four consecutive years they have been the object of a government campaign of repression, intimidation and harassment in their communities. The rural residents organized in the Movement for the Defense of the Land, Lake and Sovereignty, maintain that in demanding the repeal of law 840 they’re not only defending their personal ownership of their lands, but also the national sovereignty,
“Wang Jing and the canal project have never had money. What has existed is an alliance to steal from the Nicaraguans, to steal our lands. That’s why Daniel Ortega isn’t repealing law 840,” affirmed Francisca Ramirez, rural leader from the town of La Fonseca in the department of Nueva Guinea. “While the law isn’t taken off the books, we farmers will continue our cause, because while we’re in the streets protesting against the Canal, no investor will want to put money into this project,” she added.
Lawyer Monica Lopez Baltodano, who investigated the intricate network of Wang Jing’s holding companies, assured that Wang Jing’s closing of his offices is “the last sign” for the repeal of Law #840. The former legal advisor for the rural movement maintained that this is “an opportune moment” for the government to “turn back its political errors” within the context of the current national protest originating with the Social Security reforms.
Lopez Baltodano called the canal project “a fiasco” going back a long way. She feels that the Ortega government hasn’t repealed the canal law “out of arrogance and an unwillingness to recognize the legitimacy that the farmers have obtained in all these years of opposition to the concession.”
Wang’s finances spiraling downwards
Bloomberg also informed of a business scandal last year linked to some of Wang’s dealings in the Ukraine. “The authorities named one of Wang’s companies as part of a presumed collusion with local businesses to “destroy” the strategic fabrication of airplane motors in the country via the withdrawal of shares,” reads the article. According to this information, Wang Jing’s company attempted to purchase participation in the company Motor Sich PJSC, the largest producer of airplanes and helicopters in the Ukraine. However, a Kiev tribunal froze the stocks in September when the security services and the Attorney General’s Office of the Ukraine argued that the purchase could “eliminate” domestic production of reaction engines, forcing the country to look towards the exterior.
The Ukranian Motor Sich company said in a July communique that “it hadn’t done anything wrong” and had cooperated with the investigators, refusing requests for further commentary.
In 2015, Wang Jing saw the drop in the Chinese stock market greatly reduce his personal fortune by US 9.1 billion, meaning a decrease of 89.2% in the US $10.2 billion that he had come to claim. Wang’s fortune was left in the lurch beginning in June of 2015 when the stock price of the telecommunications company Xinwei began to fall. Jing owns 35% of the total stocks in this company and each stock, valued at 64.26 yen on June 2, fell to 31.6 yen in less than five weeks for an accumulated loss of 50.8%.