Former head of Chinese state asset firm is sentenced to death for for bribery, corruption and bigamy
Lai Xiaomin, a former Communist member, will pay with his life for large scale corruption
Lai, 58, admitted to soliciting $300m in bribes
Lai, former head of one of China’s largest state-controlled asset management firms gave a detailed televised confession on state broadcaster CCTV last January
The court also convicted Lai for starting starting a second family nd fathering children while still married to his first wife
Footage showed safes and cabinets stuffed with cash in several currencies inside a Beijing apartment
The former head of one of China’s largest state-controlled asset management firms was sentenced to death Tuesday for soliciting $278 million in bribes, corruption, and also bigamy.
Lai Xiaomin, a former Communist Party member, gave a detailed televised confession on state broadcaster CCTV last January, which showed footage of safes and cabinets stuffed with cash in a Beijing apartment belonging to him.
58-year-old a court ruled, had shown ‘extreme malicious intent’.
He had abused his position in attempting to obtain the vast sum, the court in the northern city of Tianjin said, describing the bribes as ‘extremely large’ and labelling the circumstances ‘particularly serious’.
Banknotes worth $30 million found in the home of corrupt Chinese official Lai Xiaomin. The former Communist Party member, gave a detailed televised confession on state broadcaster CCTV last January, which showed footage of safes and cabinets stuffed with cash in a Beijing apartment allegedly belonging to him.
The former chairman of the Hong Kong-listed China Huarong Asset Management Company – 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.
Lai’s death sentence is one of the harshest punishments for economic crimes in recent years.
Life sentences and suspended death sentences commuted to life after two years are frequently handed down in corruption cases, but death sentences without the chance of reprieve have become rare in recent years. Such sentences automatically go on appeal to China’s highest court.
Huarong is one of four companies set up in 1999 to help clean up bad debt choking China’s banking system, and the company later expanded into investment, loan and property businesses.
Lai 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
Lai’s downfall began in April 2018 as he was placed under investigation by the ruling Communist Party’s corruption watchdog in 2018 and expelled from the party later the same year.
In its ruling, the Tianjin court cited the ‘especially enormous’ size of the bribes Lai accepted, saying they exceeded $93million [600 million yuan], in one instance.
In total, it said Lai collected or sought to collect $277million [1.79 billion yuan], over a decade in exchange for making investments, offering construction contracts, helping with promotions and other favours.
He was also convicted of embezzling more than $3.81 [25 million yuan], in state assets.
Delving into his love life, the court convicted Lai for starting starting a second family nd fathering children while still married to his first wife.
Although Lai provided useful details about offences by his subordinates, the seriousness of his bribe taking and ‘degree of harm caused to society’ were not enough to win him leniency, the court said in its ruling.
‘Lai Xiaomin is lawless and greedy in the extreme,’ the ruling said.
‘His crimes are extremely serious and must be punished severely under law.’
The state-run TV station also showed footage of Mr Lai admitted to his crimes. 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.’
Safes and suitcases stuffed with suspected bribery money were reportedly discovered when authorities raided the apartment of Lai Xiaomin in Beijing.
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 cars 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 organisations as coerced confessions.
The court said Lai would have all personal assets confiscated and be stripped of his political rights.
Photos published by the court showed Lai standing up and facing the judge to be sentenced, flanked by two police officers wearing face masks.
The sentencing brings an end to one of the country’s biggest financial crime cases, and comes as Beijing takes an increasingly tough stance on corporate wrongdoing.
Huarong said its Communist Party committee supports the verdict.
‘The severe treatment of Lai Xiaomin reflects the strong determination of the Central Committee with President Xi Jinping as the core to administer the party and its zero tolerance in punishing corruption,’ the company said in a statement.
Critics say the wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign launched under President Xi Jinping has also served as a way to target his opponents and those of the Communist Party leadership.
Since Xi came to power, many high ranking officials have been jailed, although only one is known to have been executed – Zhao Liping, who was convicted of homicide in 2016.
Three other senior Communist Party members have been sentenced to death but later given a reprieve.
The list of former high ranking officials to suffer high-profile falls from grace in recent years in the anti-corruption purge, include the former head of Interpol, an ex-spy chief and a Xinjiang governor accused of ‘trading power for sex’ are some of the other high-profile officials