Red Star

Oliver Rothschild

What’s in a name?

Oliver Rothschild2 w

In The Currency War, Chinese writer Song Hongbing claims the Rothschild banking dynasty has orchestrated pretty much every historical event and financed every major war in the past 200 years.

Song is no Niall Ferguson (a historian whose debut book was the acclaimed The House of Rothschild) but The Currency War, which is part conspiracy theory and part nationalist tract, has sold over half a million copies in China. The bestseller means the Rothschilds are a household name in the country. For a different reason a financial advisor who bears the same famed surname has also hit headlines in China last week.

Who is he?

The Wikipedia entry of Oliver Rothschild suggests he was born in 1951 in London, while describing the Brit as a ‘corporate strategist’ who has held ‘management level positions with Buchler Rothschild Investments and is currently the chairman of Oliver Rothschild Corporate Advisors.

Why he is in the news?

In fact, the Londoner has been active in China for the past three years. With the assured air of a financial expert and oozing upper-class charm, Oliver Rothschild has appeared as the guest of honour at economic forums or official events held by local governments, state firms and universities.

Last month the 64 year-old enjoyed lavish hospitality at the expense of the Reignwood Group (the company owned by China’s Mr Red Bull, see WiC55), which invited him to promote an executive helicopter service in Beijing. In another high profile function he shared “his views on education” on a platform with the head of Beijing’s Tsinghua University. The prestige academic institution’s statement described him to be “a core member and chief asset manager for the Rothschild family”.

So who is he?

Things in China were going well for Oliver Rothschild until last week when the Economic Observer reported that the Brit may actually be a ‘shanzhai Rothschild’ (the Chinese word means bogus).

The embarrassing revelation stoked heated discussion across Chinese social media and British newspapers poured in to investigate. “Fake ‘Rothschild’ who lived the high-life in China exposed,” a headline in The Daily Telegraph read, with the UK branch of the Rothschild Group telling The Telegraph that Oliver Rothschild is not a family member or involved with any of its business interests.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Oliver Rothschild claimed he was “shocked” and likewise stressed that he never intended to pass himself off as a member of the famous Rothschild clan.

“Whether Oliver Rothschild is a swindler or his friends misinformed the Chinese audience about his identity on purpose, his surname was the key contributing factor to the farce,” Global Times concluded.

Embarrassing though the episode has been for Tsinghua, it ought to prompt the university and other hosts in China to spend a bit more time on background checking their overseas guests in future.

© ChinTell Ltd. All rights reserved.

Sponsored by HSBC.

The Week in China website and the weekly magazine publications are owned and maintained by ChinTell Limited, Hong Kong. Neither HSBC nor any member of the HSBC group of companies ("HSBC") endorses the contents and/or is involved in selecting, creating or editing the contents of the Week in China website or the Week in China magazine. The views expressed in these publications are solely the views of ChinTell Limited and do not necessarily reflect the views or investment ideas of HSBC. No responsibility will therefore be assumed by HSBC for the contents of these publications or for the errors or omissions therein.