The former head of a Chinese state asset firm was executed on Friday for soliciting $300million in bribes and starting a secret second family while married to his ‘loyal wife’, the official People’s Daily reported.
In one of China’s highest-profile corruption cases, Lai Xiaomin, an ex-Communist Party member, 58, was found guilty of receiving or seeking bribes totalling 1.79billion yuan ($278million) from 2008-18, when he was also a senior banking regulator.
Lai, who was the chairman of China Huarong Asset Management Co – a distressed debt group – was sentenced on January 5 by the Secondary Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin. He was also convicted on corruption and bigamy charges.
He met with close relatives before the execution was carried out by the Tianjin court on the orders of China’s Supreme People’s Court, the newspaper said.
Lai Xiaomin, the former head of a Chinese state asset firm, was executed on Friday for soliciting $300m in bribes and starting a secret second family while married to his ‘loyal wife’
Lai, who was the chairman of China Huarong Asset Management Co – a distressed debt group – was sentenced on January 5 by the Secondary Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin
Citing a review by the supreme court, it was reported that Lai’s ‘significant meritorious service’ was not enough to earn him a more lenient punishment given the ‘facts, nature, circumstances and the degree of harm to society’ caused by his bribery crimes.
Lai gave a detailed televised confession on state broadcaster CCTV last January, which showed footage of safes and cabinets stuffed with cash in a Beijing apartment belonging to him.
He had abused his position in attempting to obtain the vast sum, the court previously said, describing the bribes as ‘extremely large’ and labelling the circumstances ‘particularly serious’.
He had shown ‘extreme malicious intent,’ the court ruling added.
Lai was also found guilty of bigamy after living with a woman ‘as man and wife for long periods’ outside of his marriage and fathering illegitimate children.
Lai’s death sentence is one of the harshest punishments for economic crimes in recent years.
Life sentences and suspended death sentences commuted to life after two years are frequently handed down in corruption cases, but death sentences without the chance of reprieve have become rare in recent years. Such sentences automatically go on appeal to China’s highest court.
Huarong is one of four companies set up in 1999 to help clean up bad debt choking China’s banking system, and the company later expanded into investment, loan and property businesses.
A documentary by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV shows Lai Xiaomin’s suspected bribes
Safes and suitcases stuffed with suspected bribery money were discovered during a raid
Lai gave a detailed televised confession on state broadcaster CCTV last January, which showed footage of safes and cabinets stuffed with cash in a Beijing apartment
Lai’s downfall began in April 2018 as he was placed under investigation by the ruling Communist Party’s corruption watchdog in 2018 and expelled from the party later the same year.
In its ruling, the Tianjin court cited the ‘especially enormous’ size of the bribes Lai accepted, saying they exceeded 600 million yuan (£68 million) in one instance.
In total, it said Lai collected or sought to collect 1.79 billion yuan (£204 million) over a decade in exchange for making investments, offering construction contracts, helping with promotions and other favours.
He was also convicted of embezzling more than 25 million yuan (£2.8 million) in state assets and starting a second family while still married to his first wife.
Although Lai provided useful details about offences by his subordinates, the seriousness of his bribe taking and ‘degree of harm caused to society’ were not enough to win him leniency, the court said in its ruling.
The state-run TV station also previously showed footage of Mr Lai confessing to his crimes
‘Lai Xiaomin is lawless and greedy in the extreme,’ the ruling previously said. ‘His crimes are extremely serious and must be punished severely under law.’
During his TV confession, Lai said he ‘did not spend a single penny, and just kept it there… I did not dare to spend it.’
Safes and suitcases stuffed with suspected bribery money were reportedly discovered when authorities raided the apartment of Lai Xiaomin in Beijing.
He had referred to the apartment where he kept the money as the ‘supermarket’, given his regular visits there to deposit cash.
CCTV showed luxury cars and gold bars reportedly accepted as bribes by Lai, who worked in the central bank and the China Banking Regulatory Commission prior to his leadership roles in Huarong.
The report showed that Mr Lai had taken bribes in different currencies, including US dollar
The channel often broadcasts interviews with suspects admitting to crimes before they have appeared in court – a practice that has long been condemned by lawyers and rights organisations as forcing confessions under duress.
The court said Lai would have all personal assets confiscated and be stripped of his political rights.
Photos published by the court showed Lai standing up and facing the judge to be sentenced, flanked by two police officers wearing face masks.
The sentencing brought an end to one of the country’s biggest financial crime cases, and comes as Beijing takes an increasingly tough stance on corporate wrongdoing.
Huarong had said its Communist Party committee supported the verdict.
‘The severe treatment of Lai Xiaomin reflects the strong determination of the Central Committee with President Xi Jinping as the core to administer the party and its zero tolerance in punishing corruption,’ the company said in a statement.
President Xi launched an anti-corruption campaign when he took over leadership of the ruling Communist Party in late 2012 and hundreds of officials have since been prosecuted
Critics said the wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign launched under President Xi Jinping had also served as a way to target his opponents and those of the Communist Party leadership.
Since President Xi Jinping came to power, many high ranking officials have been jailed, although only one was known to have been executed – Zhao Liping – who was convicted of homicide in 2016.
China keeps data on its use of the death penalty secret, although rights group Amnesty International estimates the country is the top executioner globally – with thousands executed and sentenced to death each year.
Three other senior Communist Party members have been sentenced to death but later given a reprieve.
The former head of Interpol, an ex-spy chief and a Xinjiang governor accused of ‘trading power for sex’, are some of the other high-profile officials to suffer spectacular falls from grace in recent years in the anti-corruption purge.
President Xi launched an anti-corruption campaign when he took over leadership of the ruling Communist Party in late 2012 and hundreds of officials have since been prosecuted.
Lai was expelled from the Communist Party in 2018.
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