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China sentences former bank chief to death for bribery

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Lai-Xiaomin

The former head of China Huarong Asset Management, Lai Xiaomin, has been sentenced to death by a court in the country after he was found guilty of bribery while he in office.

Xiaomin sentence is seen as a rare use of capital punishment in a long-running crackdown by Beijing on corruption.

The ex-bank chief was found guilty of taking or seeking bribes totaling nearly 1.8 billion yuan ($277 million), a court in the port city of Tianjin said on Wednesday while handing down the sentence.

Xiaomin, who was regarded as China’s most corrupt financial official, was investigated in 2018 over his time as the chairman of the banking giant and he was found him guilty of accepting $277 million in bribes between 2008 and 2018.

The convicted banker had confessed to taking bribes in January after he claimed that the money was kept in an apartment but “didn’t spend a cent.”

The court will confiscate all of Xiaomin’s personal assets including properties, luxury watches and flashy cars.

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The death sentence slammed on the banker was part of an anti-corruption crusade led by Chinese President, Xi Jinping, who has been in power since 2012.

The Chinese government created the Huarong Asset Management shortly after the 1997 Asian financial crisis as one of a handful of firms meant to handle mounting bad debt at state-run banks.

Xiaomin became president of the company in 2009 and later became its chairman. His tenure was characterized by a period of rapid expansion. Huarong not only manages assets but also is involved in lending and other forms of equity investment. It raised 17.8 billion Hong Kong dollars ($2.3 billion) from an IPO in Hong Kong in 2015.

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