6 January 2021.
Lai Xiaomin, 58,former head of state-owned China Huarong Asset Management Co. Ltd. was sentenced to death Tuesday for bribery. This is probably the most harshest sentence given out for economic crimes in recent years. He was also charged with bigamy. Lai was removed from the Communist Party membership in 2018 for violating party laws and regulations, including abusing his power for sex.
Huarong is one of four entities created in the 1990s to buy nonperforming loans from banks to revive the state-owned finance industry. Over time these asset management companies expanded into banking, insurance, real estate finance and other fields.
Like most corruption convictions in China, Mr. Lai’s conviction was also based on confession. During his televised confession, Mr. Lai said that he did not spend any money that took as bribe or embezzled for fear of being caught. TV also showed luxury cars and gold bars which he took as bribe. TV showed footage of safes and cabinets stuffed with cash in a Beijing apartment allegedly belonging to him. He was also alleged to have embezzled over US$3.8 million in public funds between 2009 and 2018.
In the recent past death sentences have been commuted to life sentences after two years. It is felt that Mr. Lai will also be given a life sentence eventually. Even then this is still a harsh punishment compared to what is prevailing in other countries. This shows Xi administration’s determination to rout out corruption in China. After he took control of the Communist party, Xi launched a campaign to route out corruption in 2012. The campaign has also taken down some of his most powerful rivals.
Huarong Asset Management, the company which Lai headed is listed in Hong Kong. It is now a distressed debt group. In April 2018 he was removed from his job and stripped him of his party position.
Sources: LMTonline and vnexplorer.