Xu Yao, the former chief executive officer of Three Body Universe, an affiliate of game publisher Yoozoo Interactive, has not confessed to the poisoning of Yoozoo chairperson and chief executive Lin Qi one month ago, however his alleged plan for the premeditated murder was revealed to the public by local media.
Lin was an executive producer on Netflix's long-awaited sci-fi production "The Three-Body Problem", a science fiction trilogy by Chinese writer Liu Cixin. Yoozoo was best known for developing the Game of Thrones: Winter Is Coming strategy game. The company went public with a listing in Shenzhen in 2014.
As the largest shareholder in Yoozoo, the 39-year-old Lin held 23.99 % of the company's shares and had a net worth of around 6.8 billion yuan ($1.05 billion), according to Hurun China Rich List. He died on Christmas Day in a Shanghai hospital.
The Shanghai police at the time said that, through initial investigation, Lin's colleague Xu was the main suspect.
To poison his business partner, Xu had set up a drug production factory in the Qingpu district, a suburb area of metropolitan Shanghai, in which Yoozoo is located. The trial drugs initially led to several household pets' deaths. In early winter, Xu, via Lin's secretary, gave his associate a gift he claimed were "probiotic" dietary supplements.
The tablets were found to be mixed with mercury and tetrodotoxin, according to an investigative report by local media Caixin.
Xu was allegedly dealing in other toxic products through a trading company he set up in Japan. He operated over 160 cell phone numbers to avoid scrutiny, ifeng Finance reported.
Local media referred to Lin as "the alpha of the company" while many employees mourned Lin's death outside the Yoozoo offices. The topic was viewed nearly 300 million times on the Chinese-version of Twitter, Weibo. Netizens have been seeking reasons for the "crucial murder."
Xu's annual salary topped 20 million yuan when he first joined Yoozoo as general legal consul in 2017 to solve the complicated rights deals related to "The Three-Body Problem".
Despite being a star in China's gaming market since its establishment in 2009, Yoozoo's foray into the film world met with problems. It faced ongoing struggles to bring the sci-fi book adaptation onto the silver screen. Despite the missed deadlines, it still attempted to hold the rights for film adaption.
Sources said Xu's poisoning attempt stemmed from an unsatisfying outcome of a work dispute. When Lin and Xu were on the outs in 2018, Lin opted to slash Xu's annual salary down to around five million yuan. Though Xu was rich experienced in the law sector, Lin thought he was not qualified as a film producer.
Zhao Yilong who replaced Xu as CEO of Three Body Universe was also being poisoned. Mercury in his body was found to be ten times higher than standard levels, according to Caixin. Zhao's wife drank some of his mercury-tainted coffee which now prevents her from breastfeeding.
Seeking to be exonerated from legal punishment, Xu made abundant preparations. Aside from hiring an expert team of lawyers to defend him, he learned how to conduct psychiatric examinations.
Xu had bought many books and searched professional digests and academic papers on the matter, unidentified sources told local media ifeng Finance.
With in-depth overseas study in both France and the U.S., Xu practiced law in New York-based corporate law firm Dewey Ballantine LLP., and accomplished more than 30 deals worth $14.26 billion for Chinese conglomerate and investment company Fosun International, according to public information.
Legal analysts said the evidence of drug manufacturing and the explicitly targeted poisonings means Xu is likely to face conviction for "intentional homicide".