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Real estate heiress & her $35M bail set for murder trial

Shawn M. Carter

The 35 million dollar bail that wealthy Chinese-American real-estate heiress Tiffany Li posted in 2017 kept her out of jail, but starting next week she heads to trial -- for murder.

Li and her current boyfriend, Kaveh Bayat, are charged with the 2016 murder of Keith Green, Li's former lover and the father of her children. Prosecutors say she orchestrated his killing when she fell in love with another man and feared she could lose custody of her children.

Green's body was found on a dirt road in Sonoma County, California two weeks after he was last seen with Li, according to the Associated Press. He was 27.

The headline-grabbing bail price has cast an unwanted spotlight on Li's family business which features many ties to China and the Chinese military. According to the Financial Times Li’s mother, Li Jihong, made her fortune in Beijing in the 1980s via joint ventures with construction companies directly owned by the powerful General Logistics department of the People’s Liberation Army. By the 1990s, the property development company had scored property in the high-rent business district around the China World Hotel.

The family came to the San Francisco Bay area and continued their real estate adventures on this side of the Pacific. The Financial Times reported that the "elder Ms Li and her business partners buy and develop real estate in the Bay Area, using a network of companies run by the same directors. In at least two cases, these associates established a company, bought a property, then sold it to another entity they controlled (or ended up controlling), repeating this process several times."

These deals have raised the question of serving as a broker for Chinese investors but keeping their identities a secret. The company has denied this.

The trial was originally set to begin Thursday but was delayed until Tuesday. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert did not give a reason for the postponement.

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