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The former head of state-owned China Huarong Asset Management Co. Ltd. He has been sentenced to death for bribery and has received one of the harshest punishments for economic crimes in recent years.

Life sentences and suspended death sentences commuted to life in prison after two years are frequently handed down in corruption cases, but death sentences without the possibility of pardon have become rare in recent years.

Such sentences are automatically appealed ChinaHighest court.
Lai Xiaomin, former head of the state-owned China Huarong Asset Management Co. Ltd., attends the court of the Second Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin in China on January 5, 2021. (AP)

Lai was investigated by the ruling Communist Party’s corruption watchdog in 2018 and expelled from the party later that year.

In its ruling, the Tianjin court cited the “especially huge” size of the bribes Lai accepted, saying they exceeded 600 million yuan ($ 119 million) in one case.

In all, he said Lai raised or sought to raise 1.79 billion yuan ($ 334 million) over a decade in exchange for abusing his position to make investments, offer construction contracts, help with promotions and provide other favors.

He was also convicted of embezzling more than 25 million yuan (nearly $ 5 million) in state assets and starting a second family while still married to his first wife.

Although Lai provided useful details about the misconduct of his subordinates, the seriousness of his bribes and the “degree of harm done to society” were not enough to earn him leniency, the court said in its ruling.

“Lai Xiaomin is a criminal and extremely greedy,” said the ruling.

“His crimes are extremely serious and must be severely punished by law.”

Huarong is one of four entities created in the 1990s to buy bad loans from banks, helping to revive the state financial industry.

These asset management companies expanded into banking, insurance, real estate finance, and other fields.

Lai was accused of wasting public money, illegally hosting banquets, engaging in sexual deals with multiple women and taking bribes, the anti-corruption agency said in 2018.

Investigators seized hundreds of millions of yuan (tens of millions of dollars) in cash from Lai’s properties, Chinese business news magazine Caixin reported in 2018.

Lai was one of hundreds of officials from government agencies, state companies and the military who have been detained in an anti-corruption crackdown that began in 2012.

Other top officials caught in the crackdown include a former head of China’s insurance regulator.

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