Buying Delaware-based Atlantic Bank for $60 million was a coup for Chinese businessman Lin Chunping.
Earlier this year, Lin was all over the Chinese news describing his purchase of the bankrupt 85-year-old institution, which he he said planned to rename USA New HSBC Federation Consortium Inc.
Here was a self-made man, described as rising from poverty to buy copper and gold mines in West Africa before playing the rice trade. Despite having no banking experience, he had managed a major acquisition of what appeared to be an esteemed American property.
His ingenuity and business acumen earned him praise and a government advisory position.
One problem: Lin's exploits were about as real as the knockoff Chanel purses and Gucci sunglasses sold on curbside mats across China.
Now, after going on the lam, he sits in prison on unrelated charges of tax evasion involving hundreds of millions of yuan. His political appointment is no more.
Reporters there sniffed around Lin's story and concluded that there is no Atlantic Bank in Delaware.
In a news conference in March, Lin apologized for "exaggerating" the takeover but said he is indeed looking to acquire overseas banks, including in the U.S., according to the People's Daily.
Atlantic Bank, however, was just a code for the U.S. company he actually purchased but was not allowed to name, Lin said.
In a country that already has a bad rap for fake Apple stores, rampant counterfeiting and questionable food supplies, touting a bank takeover that wasn't certainly doesn't help support a reputation for legitimacy.