While Chinese authorities portray Wu as a ruthless mobster who ran an illegal casino, his 27-year-old daughter, Anna Wu, says he is "just a regular businessman" who sold his home in the Los Angeles area to finance the construction of a shopping center in China, The New York Times reported Sunday.
As his family tells it, Vincent Wu is an industrious Chinese-American immigrant who sold his family's suburban Los Angeles home to finance the construction of a shopping center in China he thought would allow him to retire early. To the police in Huizhou, a city in the southern province of Guangdong, Wu, 54, is a Mafia kingpin and illegal casino operator who dispatched his enemies through kidnapping, extortion and violence.
Anna Wu, 27, dismissed the allegations that her father was a mob boss, calling him "just a regular businessman."
The newspaper notes Chinese prosecutors win 98 percent of their cases, a point not lost on the elder Wu's attorney.
"It's going to be a tough battle," defense lawyer Wang Shihua, said. "At the very least, it's going to be a very confrontational trial."
Wu's defense is that he was tortured into signing a confession. He says he was beaten while hung upside down and was forced to go days without food and water. He also says he was given stimulants to keep him from sleeping. Ultimately, he signed a confession presented to him.
"They pre-wrote everything," he said in a deposition. "If I didn't sign it, they beat me."
Wu's family contends powerful former business associates are out to get Wu and take his assets, the Times said.
Nolan Barkhouse, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said Chinese authorities had refused to recognize Wu's dual citizenship, complicating efforts by U.S. officials to advocate on his behalf.
"The Department of State takes obligations to assist U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad seriously and stands ready to assist them and their families within the limits of our authority, in accordance with international law," he said.