Li Lijuan, a millionaire and cancer-stricken woman who adopted 118 orphans, was recently detained and put under criminal detention over alleged blackmailing and disturbing social order.
The 48-year-old, who operated iron ore mines and became the richest woman in Wuan, China’s Hubei Province, was arrested on Saturday in Beijing where she was getting her cancer treatment, according to South China Morning Post.
Li’s arrest was confirmed by her son Han Wen.
Li was charged with disturbing social order, extortion, and other illegal crimes, The Paper reported. Authorities also froze her bank account, which contains more than 20 million yuan ($3.1 million) and more than $20,000.
She received a large number of donations over the past 21 years, which were used as the main funds for her welfare house, according to China Daily.
Li reportedly blackmailed 70,000 yuan ($10,997) from a company who wished to pass a fiber-optic cable above her Love Village welfare house. She also exhorted a hotel and a hospital for nearly 300,000 yuan ($47,131).
Her daughter, Li Dan, defended her by saying that the allegations were ridiculous. She explained that the money in her mother’s bank account was given by the government as compensation when they took over the operation of her iron ore business.
In addition, the millionaire’s Love Village orphanage was also shut down by the Wuan police. All 74 children living in the orphanage were sent to hospitals for check-ups and treatment.
“In response to the public tip-offs that some trafficked children had been adopted in [Wuan], police will collect blood samples and fingerprints from these children and add their details to the public security system’s register of missing children,” Wuan police said in a statement released on Friday.
The children will also receive professional counseling, and Wuan mayor Qiang Yanfeng said that they would move them to state-run orphanages, adding that the government will cover all medical and educational expenses.
Police claimed that Li was also suspected of using her adopted children to siege township and intimidate government officials.
On April 21, two weeks before her arrest in Beijing, Wuan authorities claimed that Li made a breach in civil affairs regulation when she failed to register Love Village to the local civil affairs administration in 2014.
However, news website Jiemian.com previously quoted the woman as saying that “she did not register the orphanage because she was told that the local government was doing away with some approvals to streamline bureaucracy.”
Li’s case is still under further investigation.