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Former Chinese asset firm chief sentenced to death for taking bribes

By Don Jacobson
Former Chinese asset firm chief sentenced to death for taking bribes
Lai Xiaomin, former chairman of China Huarong Asset Management Co. Ltd., received a death sentence during a court appearance in Tianjin, China, on Tuesday. Photo courtesy Second Municipal Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin/UPI

Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of one of China's biggest state asset managers, on Tuesday was sentenced to death for accepting bribes worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lai, formerly of China Huarong Asset Management Co. Ltd., was sentenced to death by the Second Municipal Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin for accepting money and gifts worth about $276 million.

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The Chinese court also ordered Lai to turn over his illicit gains to the state treasury and decreed that all his personal properties be confiscated.

Prosecutors said Lai leveraged his position over a decade-long span between 2008 and 2018 to "assist certain organizations and individuals with financing, project contracting, business operations and job promotion or transfer" in exchange for the kickbacks.

His actions constituted "a great loss" to the interests of the state and the people, the government said.

Lai's sentence is one of the most severe penalties handed out yet in Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive.

Zhao Zhengyong, a senior Chinese Communist Party official charged with taking bribes worth more than $100 million, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in July.

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Zhao was found guilty of using his position to amass bribes in exchange for building contracts and other favors during the construction of an illegal resort in the Qinling Mountains.

Xi launched an anti-corruption campaign at the beginning of his term of office, but critics of the policy, including former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, have said he has used the campaign to strengthen his grip on power.

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