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Chinese toymaker commits suicide after recall

Businessman found dead just a week after company linked to lead-tainted toy recall by Mattel.

BEIJING (Reuters) -- The boss of a Chinese toy manufacturing company involved in a Mattel recall after its products were found to contain excessive lead levels has hanged himself, Chinese media reported Monday.

Zhang Shuhong, a Hong Kong businessman in his 50s and boss of the Lida Toy Company in the southern province of Guangdong, was found dead in his factory workshop Saturday, the semi-official Southern Metropolitan Daily said.


About 1.5 million preschool toys made by Lida Toy, a Foshan-based contract manufacturer for Mattel Inc.'s (Charts, Fortune 500) Fisher-Price unit, were recalled across the globe by the U.S. company last week.

The recalled toys included popular preschool characters such as Elmo and Big Bird and dozens of other items. The case was the latest in a deluge of product safety scares that have tainted the "made-in-China" brand.

Lead paint has been linked to health problems in children, including brain damage. China's quality watchdog had banned Lida from exports.

A close friend of Zhang who was also one of the major paint suppliers for the company sold the problematic paint to Lida, the newspaper said.

"(He) was so evil-hearted to have sold the fake paint to our boss ... our boss was ruined by his best friend," a manager of the company, surname Liu, was quoted as saying.

Lida was not immediately available for comment. Calls to its factory went unanswered. A spokeswoman for Mattel in Hong Kong said she was not in a position to comment.

Police were investigating the case, the newspaper said.

Chinese goods have been under fire after a chemical additive in pet food caused the death of some pets in the United States, and toxic ingredients were found in Chinese toothpaste and fish exports.

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