SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The missing chief executive of embattled German-listed Chinese shoe maker Ultrasonic AG has resurfaced in China to deny absconding with millions of dollars of company money, telling local media he had been travelling and lost his phone.
CEO Wu Qingyong, who was dismissed last week after his abrupt disappearance, separately told an Ultrasonic executive he would return to the company and give back any funds, the firm said in a statement on Monday. It added, however, that its supervisory board had been unable to contact Wu directly.
In a video interview with Chinese news outlet Sina, posted late on Sunday, Wu said the whole matter was a misunderstanding and that he had simply been on holiday with his grandson and had lost his mobile phone.
“Rumours say that I took more than a billion (yuan). This is pure rumour. No such thing has happened. The company’s financial situation remains normal,” Wu said. The Sina video said the interview had taken place in the southern city of Quanzhou.
The company statement said Wu had contacted the firm’s chief financial officer Clifford Chan and a German broker by phone over the weekend, claiming that “he would return to the company and that he would also return the funds”.
An official in the company’s human resources department, who gave only his family name Pi, told Reuters that senior executives had met on Sunday to discuss the re-emergence of Wu, who he said was planning to visit the firm’s facilities.
A man who picked up a phone number linked to Wu Qingyong claimed it was a wrong number. Wu’s assistant at Ultrasonic was not immediately available for comment.
Ultrasonic said last Tuesday that Wu Qingyong and his son, Chief Operating Officer Wu Minghong, had been missing since the weekend, and most of the company’s cash reserves in China and Hong Kong had vanished. On Thursday, the company said the pair had withdrawn the cash in two tranches.