A Chinese court sentenced a former top banker to death. Lai Xiaomin is said to have been guilty of corruption and bigamy. He had been on state television.
A top banker in China has been sentenced to death in one of the country’s biggest corruption scandals. The court accused the former head of the board of directors of the asset manager “Huarong Asset Management”, Lai Xiaomin, of taking bribes amounting to the equivalent of around 225 million euros between 2008 and 2018.
Lai Xiaomin behaved illegally and greedily and must be punished severely under the law, the court said. He was also convicted of bigamy. In addition to his marriage, he lived “for a long time with other women” with whom he had illegitimate children.
Confession on state television
The verdict against Lai is one of the toughest in economic crime cases in recent years. Lifelong imprisonment and suspended sentences are often imposed in corruption cases, but death sentences have rarely been pronounced recently.
From 2012 to 2018, Lai was at the top of “Huarong”, the fourth largest wealth manager in China. He also held various positions at the Chinese central bank. In 2018 he was expelled from the Communist Party (KP) and accused of corruption. In January 2020, Lai’s confession was broadcast on the state television broadcaster CCTV. Images of an apartment in Beijing that allegedly belonged to Lai and contained safes and cupboards with large amounts of cash were shown.
“Crimes must be severely punished”
In its decision against the 58-year-old, the court now cited the enormous amount of bribes that Lai accepted. In addition, he is said to have embezzled the equivalent of more than three million euros in state assets. Although the defendant testified against other “Huarong” employees, the “degree of harm to society” that Lai had caused was too high. “His crimes are extremely serious and must be severely punished by law,” said the court’s decision. According to the verdict, all of Lai’s personal belongings will be confiscated. He also loses all political rights.
“Huarong Asset Management” is one of four companies that were founded in the 1990s to buy up loans from distressed banks and thus help revitalize the state finance industry. Lai was one of hundreds of officials from government agencies, state corporations, and the military who had been investigated.
Four death sentences since 2013
A large-scale anti-corruption campaign is currently underway in China, announced by President Xi Jinping. In the opinion of critics, the head of state also created the opportunity to take action against opponents. State television often broadcasts interviews with suspects who profess to have committed criminal acts, although no legal proceedings have yet started against them. Since Xi took office in 2013, four high-ranking CP members have already been sentenced to death.