China sentences former asset manager to death for ‘extremely large’ bribes

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A Chinese court on Tuesday sentenced to death a former executive of one of the country’s largest state-controlled asset management firms for accepting “extremely large” bribes, state media reported.

Bai Tianhui, the former general manager at a subsidiary of bad-debt manager Huarong Asset Management, was found guilty of receiving the equivalent of more than 1.1 billion yuan ($151.9 million) while using his management positions to offer favourable treatment in “matters including project acquisition and corporate financing,” state broadcaster CCTV said.

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Huarong has been a major target of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s years-long graft crackdown, with its former chairman Lai Xiaomin executed in January 2021 for receiving bribes worth $260 million.

Supporters say the anti-corruption campaign promotes clean governance, but critics say it also provides Xi with the power to purge political rivals.

The court sentenced Bai to “death, deprivation of political rights for life, and confiscation of all personal property,” CCTV said.

“The value of Bai Tianhui’s bribery crime was extremely large, the circumstances of the crime were extremely serious, the social impact was extremely bad, and it caused extremely heavy damage to the interests of the country and the people,” the court decided, according to the broadcaster.

China’s top leaders declared at a Politburo meeting on Monday that discussed financial risks that “those who fail to perform their duties will be held to account, and be severely punished,” state news agency Xinhua said.

Recent months have seen several figures from China’s financial and banking sectors targeted by anti-graft authorities.

In April, Liu Liange, chairman of the Bank of China from 2019 to 2023, admitted to “accepting bribes and illegally providing loans.”

That same month, former head of Chinese state-owned banking giant Everbright Group Li Xiaopeng came under investigation for “severe violations” of the law.

China classifies death penalty statistics as a state secret, though Amnesty and other rights groups believe thousands of people are executed in the country every year.

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