Zhou family amassed assets worth over $200m
HIS son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China.
His son's mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps all the way from Sichuan province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing's most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.
In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China's top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.
The son, Zhou Bin, has been detained. His mother-law, Zhan Minli, is one of the few members of the clan who remain free. She said her granddaughter - who is also Mr Zhou's granddaughter - has been left in the care of a kindergarten in Beijing because the rest of the family is in custody.
"It is too cruel for a five-year-old child," Zhan said in an interview at her home in southern California.
Zhou Bin, Zhan and the sister-in-law, Zhou Lingying, hold or have controlled stakes in at least 37 companies scattered across a dozen provinces, from Audi dealerships to property firms, according to corporate documents filed with the government.
Seventeen focus on investments in energy, mostly in ventures with the state-owned oil giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), which Zhou headed in the 1990s. Nine centre on Sichuan province, where he served as party chief from 1999 to 2002.
In all, the holdings examined by The Times are worth at least 1 billion yuan (S$201 million), although that estimate is based on a limited assessment of each company's value and does not include real estate or overseas assets, which are more difficult to identify and assess.
Zhou Bin, Zhan and Zhou Lingying are just a few of the clan who have benefited from CNPC's rise.
Zhou Bin, 42, is the majority owner of a Beijing company that sells equipment to Liaohe as well as to CNPC oilfields in at least three other provinces, corporate records show. Zhan, 71, owns companies that sell natural gas with CNPC in two provinces.
And Zhou Lingying, 63, teamed up with CNPC to sell natural gas in another province, and owns stakes in companies that also work with CNPC in western China, according to the documents.
All told, the three relatives hold or have recently held ownership stakes in at least 11 companies that have done business with CNPC or the other state-owned oil giant, Sinopec, company documents show.