Liu Hui was accused of using fraudulent practices in his real estate business in the city of Shenzhen, The Financial Times reported. Liu, who denied the charges, was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
"This ruling is completely wrong and does not match up with the facts and the evidence," Mo Shaoping, Liu's lawyer, was quoted as saying by The Times. He said his client was planning an appeal.
"This really looks like the Chinese government is trying to tell the U.S. that it doesn't care about pressure on human rights," said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Liu's brother-in-law, Liu Xiaobo, is a writer and pro-democracy activist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 while he was imprisoned for subversion of state power. Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since her husband received the award.
Liu Xia called the sentence against Liu Hui "political persecution," Mo said.