China executes businessman found guilty of taking $277m in bribes

The former head of China Huarong Asset Management, a state-controlled company formed to take over bad loans, was executed on Friday after being found guilty of accepting bribes in exchange for awarding construction contracts and other corrupt business dealings.

Lai Xiaomin, 58, was tried by the Second Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin following an investigation into corruption carried out by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission.

Lai was a Chinese businessman and economist who served as Communist Party secretary and chairman of the board of China Huarong from September 2012 to April 2018. He was sacked for graft on 17 April 2018.

Although death sentences are not uncommon in China, they are typically commuted to imprisonment or imposed "with reprieve", which means the sentence will be carried out only if further offences are committed in a two-year period.

Sentences without reprieve are rare, and reflect the "especially enormous" scale of Lai’s corruption.

Altogether, Lai was found guilty of collecting some $277m in bribes over a decade, reported China’s Global Times.  

He was also convicted of bigamy for cohabiting and fathering children outside his marriage.

Huarong was one of four "bad banks" created in the late 1990s to buy nonperforming loans from government banks hit by the 1996 Asian financial crisis. It later expanded into a real financial company, with activities in insurance and property finance.

The investigation into Lai’s dealings was the first to be jointly handled by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the State Supervisory Commission.

Image ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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