Father-Son Dispute at Smithfield Parent Boils Over

Aug. 18, 2021
WH Group, the parent of Smithfield Foods, is in turmoil after the son of the company’s patriarch publicly accused his father of theft and fraud.

WH Group, the parent of Smithfield Foods, is in turmoil after the son of the company’s patriarch publicly accused his father of theft and fraud.

Wan Long, who worked his way up from a slaughterhouse job to build the world’s largest pork empire, stepped down as CEO of WH Group early in August while remaining its chairman. In an article posted to the WeChat page of a Chinese business publication, his son, Wan Hongjian, accused his father of embezzlement and tax evasion, and the company of fraud.

Wan Hongjian had been executive director and deputy chairman of WH Group until he was fired in June “due to his recent misconduct of aggressive behaviors against the Company’s properties,” according to a company statement quoted in the Wall Street Journal. In interviews following his departure, Wan Hongjian acknowledged that he had hit some pieces of furniture in his father’s office on one occasion.

In the wake of the younger Wan’s allegations, the stock of WH Group fell 11% Aug. 18 on the Hong Kong stock exchange. WH Group reported a 6.8% year-over-year increase in revenue for the six months ending June 30, but slightly less profit.

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