China sentences former Huarong chairman Lai Xiaomin to death over bribery

Lai Xiaomin was found guilty of receiving a total of 1.79 billion yuan in bribes between 2008 and 2018.
Lai Xiaomin was found guilty of receiving a total of 1.79 billion yuan in bribes between 2008 and 2018.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Lai Xiaomin, former chairman of China Huarong Asset Management Co, was sentenced to death for taking bribes, corruption and bigamy, in one of the nation's biggest financial crime cases.

Lai was found guilty of receiving a total of 1.79 billion yuan (S$365 million) in bribes between 2008 and 2018, according to the local court of Tianjin City. All his personal assets will be confiscated, the rulings said.

He was also convicted on a charge of bigamy. 

"Lai Xiaomin was lawless and extremely greedy," the court statement said. 

The court noted that most of the activity in question took place after the 18th Party Congress in late 2012, referring to an event that kicked off a sweeping anti-corruption campaign by soon-to-be President Xi Jinping that became a hallmark of his first term. 

"The social harm was huge and the crimes were extremely serious and he should be severely punished according to law," the court said.

It was not possible to reach Lai or his lawyer for comment. 

Huarong, one of China’s four big state asset management firms, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In early 2020, Lai confessed in a state TV documentary that he preferred cash payments and said he would drive trunk loads of bills to a Beijing apartment, where more than 200 million yuan was uncovered by police later.

Detained in 2018, he was found to own a large number of properties, luxury watches, cars, gold and art collections.

Lai was expelled from the ruling Communist Party in 2018. 

The Chinese authorities are taking an increasingly tough stance on corporate malfeasance, broadening Mr Xi's eight-year corruption crackdown into the nation's boardrooms.

More than 1 million government officials have been punished in Mr Xi's anti-corruption campaign, the People's Daily had reported earlier.