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Chinese oil trading executive detained for alleged tax fraud - sources

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SINGAPORE/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A Chinese trading executive at Litasco SA has been detained by police in Shanghai for alleged tax fraud committed in late 2015 before he joined the company, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Li Buhua, the chief representative in China for Litasco, the Swiss-based trading arm of Russian oil producer Lukoil, was detained in mid-April by the Putuo Branch of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, said one of the sources, a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the matter, adding that no charges have been made against Li.

Li was detained for allegedly violating laws regarding the payment of value-added taxes, the source said, although they could not provide further details.

“The Chinese government has been cracking down on tax fraud for the past several years, especially those related to value-added tax,” said the law enforcement source.

The source, who declined to be named as they are not authorized to speak to the press, said Li’s alleged tax fraud took place in late 2015.

A second source, who was briefed by Li’s colleagues, said Li was detained on April 19 at a train station in east China. The source did not give further details.

Li joined Litasco in January 2017. Before that, he was employed by Shanghai GYIE Cross-border E-commerce Co from October 2015 to May 2016, according to his profile on LinkedIn.

A person who answered the main switchboard number for Shanghai GYIE refused to direct the call to anyone else in the company when contacted by Reuters.

Litasco did not respond to a request for comment.

Officers contacted by Reuters at the Putuo branch of Shanghai Public Security Bureau declined to comment.

A call to Li’s mobile phone went to an answering service.

Li started his oil trading career with Chinese state oil trader Sinochem Corp in the 1990s and later also worked for Swiss commodities trading house Glencore.

(Reporting by Chen Aizhu in SINGAPORE; additional reporting by Meng Meng in SHANGHAI and Dmitry Zhdannikov in LONDON; editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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