Suntech's Shi 'questioned by Chinese authorities'

Suntech’s former and current chief executives – Shi Zhengrong and David King, respectively – are reportedly being questioned by Chinese authorities keen to pick apart past financial dealings that may have contributed to the insolvency of the company's main subsidiary last week.

Local media, including the China Daily newspaper, claim Shi was prevented from leaving China over the weekend while officials looked into possible irregularities in Suntech’s financial accounts before the company’s main subsidiary was pushed into insolvency last week.

Officials believe that past deals in which Shi was involved may have indirectly contributed to Suntech’s insolvency, according to reports.

However, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs contradicted the reports, telling Australian media that Shi “has not been detained and is not subject to travel restrictions”.

Born in Jiangsu province, Shi also holds Australian citizenship stemming from his doctoral studies at the University of New South Wales.

King – who replaced Shi as chief executive last August, in what has become an increasingly acrimonious power transfer – is also reported to have been questioned by authorities.

A full divorce between Shi and the company he founded is seen as a core condition of any potential bailout of Suntech by the local government in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.

Shi, once a billionaire many times over and known as “The Sun King” in China, still holds a significant stake in the company.

The travails of crisis-stricken Suntech have captivated the global PV industry, and forced Chinese peers like JA Solar and ReneSola to reassure investors that their own financial positions are in better shape.