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Banker in China Sentenced to Death for Accepting Bribes



Banker in China Sentenced to Death
Former general manager of China Huarong International Holdings, was sentenced to death: SCMP Image

A criminal court in China imposed a rare death sentence on a former senior banker who accepted bribes worth more than 1.1 billion yuan (US$151 million) while working for one of the country’s top four state asset managers.

The court ruled that Bai Tianhui, former general manager of China Huarong International Holdings (CHIH), used his position to help others with project purchases and finance in exchange for large sums.

specify broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) did not specify how Bai pleaded or whether he would appeal the sentence.

While countless officials have been implicated in China’s vast anti-corruption effort since President Xi Jinping took office more than a decade ago, death sentences that are not suspended remain uncommon in corruption cases.

CHIH is an offshore division of China Huarong Asset Management (CHAM). In January, the Citic Group acquired the company and renamed it China Citic Financial Asset Management.

Death penalty for corruption

Bai is the second China Huarong official to face the death penalty for corruption. In January 2021, the same court condemned Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of CHAM and Bai’s former boss, to the same fate.

Lai, who was killed a month after being sentenced, was convicted of accepting 1.79 billion yuan ($247 million) in bribes, embezzling state assets worth more than 25.13 million yuan ($3.46 million), and bigamy.

Lai was the first official to face the death penalty for corruption since Xu Maiyong and Jiang Renjie, former mayors of the eastern cities of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Suzhou in Jiangsu, were executed in 2011.

According to CCTV, Tuesday’s court verdict also permanently removed Bai’s political rights and ordered the confiscation of all of his personal possessions.

The court accepted that Bai had provided information that led to additional arrests and convictions. However, the bribes he accepted were “particularly huge,” and the consequences of his crimes were “particularly pernicious, causing serious losses to the interests of the state and the people.”

“Taking all of these [factors] into account, [the court] determined that [Bai] did not merit a lesser sentence. Hence the death punishment verdict,” the ruling read.

China’s corruption watchdog

Four other senior Huarong executives are awaiting trial, including Wang Pinghua, former chairman of Huarong Real Estate, and Qin Ling, chairman of Huarong Investment.

Guo Jintong, former deputy general manager of Huarong International Holdings, and Zhao Zichun, who held the same post at Huarong Guiyang Real Estate, are also scheduled to appear in court on corruption accusations.

A Beijing-based criminal lawyer who declined to be named said he expected Bai to file an appeal based on precedent, citing cases where prisoners were sentenced to less time for comparable offenses.

Zhang Zhongsheng, a former deputy mayor of Luliang in northern China’s Shanxi province, was sentenced to death in March 2018 for collecting 1.17 billion yuan ($161 million) in bribes. His sentence was then stayed for two years and converted to life imprisonment following an appeal in October 2021.

China’s top corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), launched a broad crackdown on the finance sector this year in response to Xi’s push to transform China into a “financial superpower” and mitigate risks.

According to the South China Morning Post, the CCDI has detained around 30 Chinese state regulators, bankers, and senior financial executives since January in response to Xi’s directive to focus its efforts on the sector.

In a speech to the CCDI’s third plenary session in January, Xi warned of “prominent problems” like as “repeated financial disorders and corruption, and weak financial supervision and governance capacity”.

Xi stated that there should be “absolutely no mercy” in dealing with the “severe and complex” problem of corruption and fraud.

Also in January, Xi sketched out a road map for China to become a financial giant, focusing on the real economy and emphasizing more pressing objectives in its attempts to defuse financial hazards.

Source: SCMP

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