Zhou Bin, son of Zhou Yongkang

Zhou Bin

Zhou Bin, 42, is the eldest son of Zhou Yongkang, China's former top security chief and a former member of the CPC's Politburo Standing Committee, who is being investigated over suspicion of "serious disciplinary violations".

The CPC officially announced the investigation into Zhou Yongkang on July 29 when an article on Caijing magazine's website said that Zhou Bin has also been arrested in Yichang in central China for suspected "illegal business operations".

The Caijing article said that the procuratorate in Yichang, Hubei Province, is investigating Zhou Bin's case and his mysterious business empire ranging from hydropower, oil and tourism to the investment sector.

Zhou Bin was born in 1972 when his father worked on the Liaohe Oilfield, the article said, citing an unnamed source close to the matter.

The source said that Zhou Bin started in business after studying abroad, adding that he ran his business cautiously and hired lawyers during the early stages of his career to avoid any risks.

With his father's success in government, Zhou Bin's business expanded from Beijing to Sichuan Province and overseas and was worth hundreds of millions of yuan, the article said.

Zhou Bin's wife and mother-in-law held positions in his companies and are shareholders.

The South China Morning Post reported earlier this year that Zhou Bin had been placed under detention since December, which is a crucial step towards launching judicial proceedings against Zhou Yongkang, who would become the highest-ranking Party leader in decades to be involved in a corruption scandal.

One of Zhou Bin's main businesses is Zhongxu Sunshine Energy Technology, which sells oil equipment to firms connected to the China National Petroleum Corporation

Zhongxu is one of several firms, covering oil, hydropower, real estate and film making, controlled by Zhou Bin's family members or associates, according to corporate and regulatory records.

Details of how Zhou Bin built his business empire within a relatively short time are not known. But two sources told the South China Morning Post that Zhou Bin had poor business skills and his success was mainly due to his father's connections.

"Zhou Bin was less likely to be assertive and didn't know much about doing business," said one person who spent time with Zhou Bin and his Chinese-American wife Huang Wan in the early 2000s. He felt that he could do everything, but the reality was quite different, the source said.

Zhou Bin also had business dealings with Liu Han, a Sichuan tycoon sentenced to death in May for murder, running casinos and illegally selling firearms, according to another person who knew him.

But Liu viewed Zhou Bin as a political connection and not a business partner, the person added.

Zhou Bin enrolled in the University of Texas at Dallas in the United States in 1994 and graduated with a degree in international management studies, the university's registration office confirmed.

He is believed to have returned to China in the early 2000s, around the time his father was elevated to Beijing's ruling elite, first as public security minister in 2002 and then five years later as domestic security chief and a member of the CPC's supreme Politburo Standing Committee.

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