One (not so) careful owner

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There are usually quite a few luxury villas for sale in the south of France. But one in Cannes has got the full-blown interest of the Chinese press. On the market for around $8.5 million, it is of more than passing interest because it was once owned by the disgraced former boss of Chongqing, the princeling Bo Xilai.

The house, which has a large garden and is nestled on a picturesque bay was purchased in 2002 by Bo’s wife for €2.3 million ($2.71 million), using funds from the (also jailed) Dalian businessman Xu Ming.

At his trial in Jinan, Bo acknowledged the villa’s existence and the court ordered the property to be confiscated by the state. But the problem is that the house is owned by a complicated web of shell companies. A French lawyer says that the Chinese court needs to provide sufficient evidence to prove Bo owned it before it can be confiscated.

Meanwhile, the Beijing Youth Daily is reporting that the French Justice Ministry has agreed to assist the Chinese in chasing down a dozen suspected fugitives. The same ministry neglected to mention the prospects for Bo’s Mediterranean mansion. But anyone interested in purchasing it would be wise to look into the legacy issues before plonking down their cash…

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