The apparent suicide of an elderly person residing in an asylum in central China has drawn attention to private companies persuading the elderly to deposit their savings in high-risk investments, in exchange for housing and d ‘help in old age.
Last week, according to eyewitness reports, Cao Ronglin, 62, threw himself from a bridge over a river in Yiyang, Hunan Province. His body was found on Friday (22).
According to a person familiar with his situation, Cao had deposited almost all of his savings into investment products offered by the local elderly care company Yiyang Nanuo Elderly Apartment Co.
The incident draws attention to how some unscrupulous private companies in China are deceiving the elderly, convincing them to make high-risk investments with the promise of ensuring safe housing, in a country with a population of elderly growing and acute shortage. retirement homes.
A day laborer who married twice and had a stepson from the second marriage, Cao invested 170,000 yuan (R $ 142,000) in Nanuo’s “contracts” over several years, as revealed by Liu Yimu , a voluntary defender of injured families. In return, he received regular “dividends”, a bed in a Nanuo retirement home, and discounts on certain services.
The company has signed contracts with several local seniors. Former official Xu Fangping, 69, told Caixin that she had delivered 220,000 yuan to the company since 2012, when a salesman from Nanuo took her to visit a retirement home.
“At the time, they came to our community to promote themselves, saying that the [jornal estatal] Hunan Daily had praised its model of elderly care and that the [emissora pública] Hunan TV Urban talked about it, ”Xu said. “We believed in the government.”
But his trust has been seriously abused. Last year, Yiyang police announced the arrest of Nanuo’s legal representative, Lu Guanghui, on suspicion of illegal fundraising, disruption of business operations, and looting of residents.
Not only did Cao lose his place in the retirement home, but he found himself without the money he needed to pay for his wife’s hospital care, according to Liu. The relationship between his death and his investments is not yet clear. Contacted by Caixin on Sunday, his family said they were preparing to negotiate with the government to receive compensation and did not want to talk about it anymore.
Lu founded Nanuo in 202 with a registered capital of 10 million yuan, according to business documents. Five years later, he founded another company, Yiyang Guanghui Yiyang Health Industries Co. Ltd., which operates as a health care organization and, according to the company’s website, owns one of the few geriatric homes ” fully equipped ‘from Hunan.
In July last year, local police reported arresting Lu and other company officials on suspicion of illegally collecting personal savings from members of the general public. She asked “concerned investors” to register before the end of the following month, or else they would be held responsible for the consequences of the alleged crimes themselves.
In August, police announced the arrest of a person with the surname Liu, a legal representative of another Yiyang nursing home, on similar charges. Residents of asylums run by the two companies told Caixin that subsequent attempts to find information on the cases had failed.
China faces a looming crisis due to the growing percentage of elderly people in the country, due to the increase in life expectancy and the low birth rate resulting in part from the legacy of the country’s policies. ‘only child, which has been in effect for decades. . According to United Nations estimates, by 2045, nearly one in four Chinese will be over 65. Government data put that percentage at just over one in eight last year.
Demographic changes are fueling a growing demand for asylum for the elderly and people at the end of life, which the public sector is struggling to cope with. As private companies seek to take advantage of the situation, loose regulation creates space for opportunistic crooks to trick some elderly people into giving up their savings.
Hunan seems to be a place that concentrates such shady activities. In November 2019, the city’s financial supervision office and police department announced that since the start of the previous year, they had jointly detected 45 cases of illegal fundraising in the elderly care sector, to 3.5 billion yuan.
According to incomplete statistics, 327 “non-state enterprises” in Hunan operate in the elderly care sector. Among them, according to public security agencies, 37 are suspected of illegal fundraising.