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Chinese toy company boss commits suicide in lead paint scandal

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BEIJING, August 13 (RIA Novosti) - The head of a Chinese toymaker committed suicide following a scandal in which plastic toys were recalled in the United States over dangerous lead content, a Chinese state newspaper said Monday.

Southern Metropolis Daily said Zhang Shuhong, CEO of Lee Der Industrial Co. Ltd., hanged himself in a company warehouse.

Earlier in August, U.S. toy distributor Mattel Inc. recalled 967,000 pre-school toys being sold under the Fisher-Price brand, saying the Chinese producer had used a non-approved pigment containing lead. Following the recall, China's state department for inspections and quality control banned all exports by Lee Der Industrial.

The paper quoted a company manager as saying the paint had been supplied by the CEO's best friend. The scandal has cost the Chinese toy producer, which employs around 5,000 people, around $30 million, bringing it close to bankruptcy.

Mattel Inc. produces many globally-known toy brands including Hot Wheels, Matchbox cars, and their main product, Barbie dolls. The toys produced by the Chinese manufacturer included Muppets Big Bird and Elmo, and toys from the Dora the Explorer series.

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