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Monday, September 22, 2014, 12:32

'Ultrasonic CEO did not take money and run'

By Reuters

SHANGHAI - The missing chief executive of embattled German-listed Chinese shoe maker Ultrasonic AG resurfaced in a video interview with a Chinese news outlet, denying rumours he absconded with millions of dollars of company money.

CEO Wu Qingyong said he had simply been on holiday with his grandson and had lost his phone, according to an interview posted by Chinese news outlet Sina late on Sunday that it said took place in the southern city of Quanzhou.

Ultrasonic said last Tuesday that Wu Qingyong and his son, Chief Operating Officer Wu Minghong, had gone missing and most of its cash reserves in China and Hong Kong had also vanished, fuelling concerns about corporate governance in the world's second-biggest economy.

"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," the CEO Wu said in the video.

Ultrasonic's supervisory board formally dismissed the pair on Thursday, saying they had drawn down a credit facility in August and transferred the money to China from Hong Kong before disappearing.

The company said it had begun talks with its creditors to try to avoid insolvency.

A person who picked up a phone number linked to Wu Qingyong claimed it was a wrong number. China-based officials at Ultrasonic were not immediately available for comment.

An official at the local public security bureau in Quanzhou declined to comment on the case.

Shares in Ultrasonic have dived more than 80 percent in the last week after reports of the scandal emerged.

In the video interview with Sina in Quanzhou, where the firm is based, Wu said he had been out of contact in recent days because he was in Hong Kong on vacation and in the Philippines for a medical check. He said he had also lost his mobile phone.

"I did not run away. Rumours around society and on the web are saying that I took the money and ran," Wu said. "My reputation and that of the company have suffered great damage, and I retain my right to prosecute those who spread this rumour."

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