Chinese Billionaire, Long Liyuan, 49, died unexpectedly on Dec. 23 in Guangdong province in China after a business lunch where he ate a dish of slow boiled cat meat stew, a southern Chinese delicacy, reported The Associated Press. Police believe the dish was poisoned by his business partner.
After an investigation, police believe the cat meat stew was poisoned with a toxic herb, Gelsemium elegans. Long was dining with two men and authorities believe one of the men, Huang Guang, set out to poison him.
Huang, the local deputy director of agriculture in Guangdong's Bajia township, was arrested Friday, The AP reports, under suspicions that he placed the Gelsemium elegans in the cat meat stew. Gelsemium elegans is a toxic herb indigenous to southeastern Asia and is known best as an effective means for committing suicide.
Police originally detained the restaurant owner, believing Long's death was caused by food poisoning. However, Long's family demanded a more in-depth investigation, refusing to believe that Long's death was accidental. The family offered 100,000 yuan or $16,000 in reward for details regarding Long's death.
He went several times to eat cat meat in the past. On each occasion, the cat was freshly killed before being put in the pot. He never had any food poisoning problems before. It must have been murder, a relative was quoted as telling the local newspaper, Xinkuaibao, the Guardian reports.
Long owned a forestry company in Guangdong and it is believed that he and Huang were in disputes over a business deal. They had allegedly gotten together for lunch to discuss a contract.
A report in the Nanfang Daily claimed that the cat hotpot dish tasted differently than it had in the past. Huang Wen, the third diner in the group, told Nanfang Daily that the dish tasted more bitter than usual.
Long reportedly ate more of the dish than the other two, although all three did feel sick. He immediately felt dizzy and sick following the lunch. He was taken to the hospital and died soon thereafter from cardiac arrest.