Lawyers hired by Premier Wen Jiabao’s family have issued an unprecedented rebuttal to the New York Times story denying that his close relatives including his mother had amassed assets worth more than $ 2.7 billion in the last decade.
The lawyers have denied that the “hidden riches” as described by the US newspaper does not exist and that his mother’s – who according to the report had accrued millions – only received her salary and pension.
They added that they reserved the right to hold the newspaper responsible legally.
The denial issued late on Saturday night is being considered unusual as it’s possibly for the first time that a top Chinese politician has issued a denial against a foreign newspaper’s report.
Earlier this year when a similar story was done by Bloomberg on senior leader Xi Jinping, he had not responded.
But Wen, who is known for his people-friendly posturing and anti-corruption views, was perhaps keen to keep his image clean, especially days before the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) begins.
The letter was obtained by Hong Kong based media groups does not specify which of Wen’s family members had hired the lawyers but said they were “entrusted by the family members of Wen Jiabao” to defend him.
“Some of Wen Jiabao's family members have not engaged in business activities. Some were engaged in business activities, but they did not carry out any illegal business activity. They do not hold shares of any companies,” the statement from the lawyers read.
“The mother of Wen Jiabao, except receiving salary/pension according to the regulation, has never had any income or property,” it added.
The NYT report did not link Wen with any of the wealth that his family had alleged amassed; neither did it say that he had directly intervened on his family’s behalf at any stage.
But the lawyers didn’t take any chance: “Wen Jiabao has never played any role in the business activities of his family members, still less has he allowed his family members' business activities to have any influence on his formulation and execution of policies.”
It added for good measure: “Other relatives of Wen Jiabao and the "friends" and "colleagues" of those relative are responsible for all their own business activities.”
NYT said it stood by its story.