Chinese entrepreneur Lin Chunping isn't a banker, nor does he play one on TV. That didn't stop him from pretending to be a banker.
Earlier this year, Lin, a 42-year-old resident of the southeastern Chinese town of Wenzhou, spun a tale of his mergers-and-acquisitions exploits in the American banking industry. Lin, who founded a rice-trading company, said that he acquired Atlantic Bank in Delaware for $60 million, according to the Telegraph of London.
The problem: no such bank exists.
Lin's fiction did not sit well with Chinese officials. Other alleged escapades, illegally issuing value-added tax invoices and re-selling them, also drew the wrath of authorities in China. He was arrested by Wenzhou authorities earlier this month, according to a news release distributed by the city of Wenzhou.
But as long as Lin doesn't make use of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. logo, or say that he owns or has bought an FDIC-insured institution, Lin has nothing to fear from American banking regulators or the American justice system.
"Our jurisdiction is the use of our logo or our name to solicit those deposits," says David Barr, an FDIC spokesman. "If we feel that an entity is operating as an illegal bank, then we can send out a notice and make referrals" to the appropriate authorities, Barr says.
Robert Glen, the banking commissioner of Delaware, could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman with the Federal Reserve Board also could not be reached.
The city of Wenzhou did not respond to a question sent by email to the contact provided on the city's website. A news release issued by the city of Wenzhou on June 12 did not include information about Lin's legal status or his whereabouts.
Police began searching for Lin on May 23 after he disappeared. He may currently be under the custody of law enforcement, as the Telegraph reported that he was arrested in Guangdong Province on June 16.
For what it's worth, no institution is currently operating in the U.S. under the specific name "Atlantic Bank," although there are some derivations of that name that are active, such as Atlantic Community Bank of Bluffton, S.C. As for Delaware, no bank is open in that state that uses the word "Atlantic" anywhere in its name. However, Calvin B. Taylor Banking Co. maintains a branch on Atlantic Avenue in Ocean View, Del.