Chinese smartphone manufacturer Gionee may not be as popular as the others like Huawei and Xiaomi but it did carve a niche for itself in the market, not only in China but other Asian markets. The company actually stood in sixth place behind Apple for smartphone sales in its home country. It’s now staring at bankruptcy with the chairman acknowledging that he used company money while gambling at a casino.
Initial reports had suggested that Gionee’s chairman and CEO Liu Lirong had gambling away 10 billion yuan or $1.44 billion of the company’s money at a Hong Kong-listed casino in Saipan. He responded to this reports by acknowledging that while he did gamble in Saipan, he didn’t lose over a billion dollars. When asked how much he lost while gambling, Lirong said that it was “a bit more than 1 billion yuan,” which is still north of a cool $140 million.
He added in the interview that he may have confused his private assets with those that belonged to the company as he frequently borrowed over the years for personal reasons. Gionee is closing in on bankruptcy as suppliers are no longer delivering components because of unpaid bills. Lirong mentioned in his interview that the company’s total debt is around 17 billion yuan with around 10 billion yuan or $1.44 billion owed to banks.
Gionee’s chairman and CEO denied that the company’s financial troubles were related to his gambling, pointing out that Gionee has been losing money since 2013.
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