Civics / Politics

City Investigating Employee Who Helped Owner of Mayor’s Old House

Jesse Bethea Jesse Bethea City Investigating Employee Who Helped Owner of Mayor’s Old HousePhoto by Walker Evans.
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On Wednesday, the office of Mayor Michael Coleman issued a statement saying the Department of Development would conduct an investigation into a city employee’s aid of Jianhua Li, a Chinese businesswoman. Li also happens to be the woman who purchased Coleman’s former house on Haddon Road in 2010, a transaction that is now under investigation by the FBI along with Li’s relationship with the city.

Coleman’s statement came after The Columbus Dispatch obtained, compiled and published a series of documents that depict the extent to which Bob Hsieh, identified by the Dispatch as an employee of the city’s Development Department, helped Li try to establish a business in Columbus in the years after her purchase of Coleman’s home. Hsieh helped Li with everything from wire transfers to new bank accounts to visa issues.

“We have discovered through emails that a city employee was assisting Dr. Li beyond the scope of his job duties,” said Mayor Coleman in Wednesday’s statement. “I did not ask any city employee to help Dr. Li beyond that which we routinely do to support economic development in Columbus. We will determine the full extent to which this employee acted beyond the scope of his employment on behalf of Dr. Li, and why.”

Coleman has said he is not the subject of the FBI’s investigation, and told the Dispatch he was unaware of Hsieh’s actions. Coleman has previously said that the sale of his former home to Li was “an arms-length and fair transaction with everything aboveboard.”

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