A former chairman of one of China’s largest state-controlled asset management firms was on Tuesday sentenced to death for soliciting US$260 million in bribes, corruption and also bigamy.
Lai Xiaomin (賴小民), a former Chinese Communist Party member, in January last year gave a detailed confession on China Central Television (CCTV), which showed footage of safes and cabinets stuffed with cash in a Beijing apartment allegedly belonging to him.
Lai had abused his position in attempting to obtain the vast sum, the Second Intermediate Court of Tianjin said, describing the bribes as “extremely large” and labeling the circumstances “particularly serious.”
Photo: AFP / Second Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin
He had shown “extreme malicious intent,” the court ruling added.
The former chairman of the Hong Kong-listed China Huarong Asset Management Co — a distressed debt group — was also found guilty of bigamy after living with a woman “as man and wife for long periods” outside of his marriage, and fathering illegitimate children.
Huarong is one of four companies set up in 1999 to help clean up bad debt piles choking China’s banking system, and the company later expanded into investment, loan and property businesses.
Lai’s downfall began in April 2018 as investigators removed him from his job and stripped him of his party position.
He was also alleged to have used his position to embezzle more than 25 million yuan (US$3.87 million at the current exchange rate) in public funds from 2009 to 2018.
During his TV confession, Lai said he “did not spend a single penny, and just kept it there... I did not dare to spend it.”
He had referred to the apartment where he kept the money as the “supermarket,” given his regular visits there to deposit cash.
CCTV showed luxury vehicles and gold bars reportedly accepted as bribes by Lai, who worked in the central bank and the China Banking Regulatory Commission prior to his leadership roles in Huarong.
The channel often broadcasts interviews with suspects admitting to crimes before they have appeared in court — a practice that has long been condemned by lawyers and rights organizations as forcing confessions under duress.
The court said Lai would have all personal assets confiscated and be stripped of his political rights.
Photographs published by the court showed Lai standing up and facing the judge to be sentenced, flanked by two police officers wearing masks.
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for