© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

City To Investigate Staffer Who Helped Chinese Businesswoman Purchase Mayor's House

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman's former house.
Google Maps
Columbus' Department of Development will conduct an investigation of Mayor Michael Coleman's home to a Chinese businesswoman on East Haddon Road.

The Columbus Department of Development says it will look into an employee's use of city resources to assist a Chinese woman who wanted to set up a business here.

Mayor Coleman Comments on Investigation of City Employee

The Department of Development will conduct an investigation into a City employee's use of City resources for activities outside of his job duties to assist Dr. Jianhua Li, a Chinese businesswoman. The investigation will follow the procedures put forth in the City's collective bargaining agreement. The FBI is investigating Dr. Li and her businesses, and has informed the City that the department's investigation will not interfere with the FBI inquiry. “We have discovered through emails that a City employee was assisting Dr. Li beyond the scope of his job duties,” said Mayor Coleman. “I did not ask any City employee to help Dr. Li beyond that which we routinely do to support economic development in Columbus. We will determine the full extent to which this employee acted beyond the scope of his employment on behalf of Dr. Li, and why.”

The Mayor's statement Wednesday comes in response to a Columbus Dispatch story that quoted Coleman as saying he had 'No idea' of any extra help a city employee gave to the woman who purchased his former home in Berwick.

The FBI says it's investigating Jianhua Li and the price she paid for the home which was reportedly higher than most comparable homes in the area. 

Public documents show James Hsieh, an Asia expert in the Development Department helped Li acquire the house, set up bank accounts and other services outside his official capacity.

Coleman is quoted as saying he knew nothing of Hsieh's activities.