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China court sentences ex-banker to death for $260m bribes, bigamy

·1-min read
Lai Xiaomin was sentenced to death for soliciting bribes, corruption and bigamy

The former chairman of one of China's largest state-controlled asset management firms was sentenced to death Tuesday for soliciting $260 million in bribes, corruption and bigamy.

Lai Xiaomin, a former Communist Party member, gave a detailed confession on state broadcaster CCTV in January 2020, with footage of a Beijing apartment reportedly belonging to Lai replete with safes and cabinets stuffed with stacks of cash.

Lai had abused his position in attempting to obtain the vast sum, the court in Tianjin said, describing the bribes as "extremely large" and calling the circumstances "particularly serious".

He had shown "extreme malicious intent," the court ruling added.

Lai, former chairman of the Hong Kong-listed China Huarong Asset Management Co, was also found guilty of bigamy after living "as man and wife for long periods" outside of his marriage and fathering illegitimate children.

Lai, whose investigation started in April 2018, also embezzled over 25 million yuan ($3.8 million) in public funds between 2009 and 2018.

During his televised confession, Lai told CCTV he "did not spend a single penny, and just kept it there... I did not dare to spend it".

CCTV also showed luxury cars and gold bars that it reported Lai had accepted as bribes.

The court in Tianjin said Lai would have all personal assets confiscated and be stripped of his political rights.

Critics have said 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.

CCTV often broadcasts interviews with suspects admitting to crimes, even before they have appeared in court -- a practice that has long been condemned by lawyers and rights organisations as forcing confessions under duress.

tjx-rox/apj/jfx