A businessman whose reported donations to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation led to the resignation of its CEO is the president of a Chinese cultural organization that says it operates under the authority of the communist government.
The website of the China Cultural Industry Association says it adheres to the “total leadership” of the Chinese Communist Party and was formed with the approval of China’s State Council, which is synonymous with the central government.
The association says on its Chinese-language site that its president is Zhang Bin, a Chinese billionaire that the Globe and Mail reported had donated $200,000 to the foundation in 2016, along with another Chinese businessman.
But the Globe reported that a receipt named a company called Millennium Golden Eagle International (Canada) as the donor.
The China Cultural Industry Association says Millennium Golden Eagle International is one of its executive board members and was created with the approval of China’s culture ministry.
Zhang is listed as chairman of Millennium Golden Eagle International on multiple privately-run Chinese company registries.
The Globe had reported in February, citing an unnamed source, that the Chinese government orchestrated donations to Université de Montreal and to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation in hopes of influencing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The university said in a statement that it is considering all options in light of new information about a $750,000 donation it received in 2016 that reportedly had ties to Beijing.
The foundation, for its part, had promised to return the $200,000 donation that came from Zhang and Niu Gensheng.
At a news conference in Regina on Thursday, Trudeau repeated that he has not had ties to the organization that bears his father’s name for about 10 years. “And it continues to be that way,” he said.
But on Tuesday, its board of directors and president resigned, saying the politicization of the charity made it “impossible to continue with the status quo.”
The Globe and Mail reported the Trudeau Foundation is now launching an independent review of its original decision to accept the donation.
Montreal-based La Presse reported Wednesday that the foundation was not able to return the money it received from Millennium Golden Eagle, which ultimately amounted to $140,000.
The China Cultural Industry Association said in 2016 on its WeChat social media account that it has set up a “Trudeau Education Fund” at the Université de Montreal.