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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chinese Toy Manufacturer Hangs Himself

BEIJING -- 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 province of Guangdong, was found dead in his factory workshop on Saturday, the semi-official Southern Metropolitan Daily said.

About 1.5 million preschool toys made by Lida Toy, a contract manufacturer for Mattel's 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, 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. 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 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.