Sunday 4 August 2019 4:56 pm

Chinese aluminium giant seeks advice over $1.8bn US probe

One of the world’s largest aluminium companies is consulting with lawyers after it was indicted in the US for smuggling into ports around Los Angeles.

China’s Zhongwang Holdings said it, and controlling shareholder Liu Zhongtian who was named on the indictment, have not been served any notice.

But in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange today the company said it was seeking legal advice.

“The company takes seriously any allegations that it may have violated any law, and is seeking legal advice in relation to the alleged proceeding,” it said.

US prosecutors claim that the company avoided $1.8bn in tariffs by disguising its imported aluminium as a finished product. That would have made it exempt from duties.

The company has in the past said the claims are misleading.

“If the allegations were proven in court, the company could face monetary penalties,” it said today.

The news was first reported on Thursday, sending shares down more than 14 per cent. They dropped further to their lowest close since 2015 on Friday.

Former chair of the board, Liu, stepped down two years ago. He still owns nearly three-quarters of its shares.