China executed the former head of one of its largest asset management companies who was convicted of corruption, a sanction that drew sharp criticism from international human rights experts. man.
Lai Xiaomin’s execution took place on Friday three weeks after the 58-year-old man was sentenced to death by a court in Tianjin City, state media reported.
Lai was found guilty accept bribes amounting to Rmb 1.8 billion ($ 280 million) over a 10-year period while working at Huarong Asset Management and prior to that at the China Banking Regulatory Commission.
As experts say such sanctions for financial crimes in China are rare, court said Lai’s crimes had caused serious losses to the interests of the nation.
Sophie Richardson, China official at Human Rights Watch, said the death penalty was by no means defensible and “to impose this type of punishment for a non-violent crime is further troubling.”
Verdicts like the one handed down to Lai should be viewed as “political determinations,” given China’s judicial functions to serve the interests of the Chinese Communist Party, she said.
“It is not known whether he had access to a lawyer of his choice, whether he had access to his family members, whether he had access to the evidence presented against him – it is a government that still has something like a 99% conviction rate ”. Ms. Richardson added.
Lai’s death comes against the backdrop of Beijing’s long-standing efforts to bring risky parts of the financial system under control that he says threaten economic stability. It follows a long anti-corruption campaign led by Xi Jinping, Chinese President.
A person who knew Lai personally attributed the severity of the punishment to his close ties to other members of the Chinese elite. The person suggested that officials “wanted to set an example for him to scare other corrupt officials.”
“But I also think he may have been too involved in high-level politics,” added the person, who asked not to be named.
Huarong, established in the 1990s, was one of four asset management companies designed to eliminate some of the risk faced by China’s largest state lenders by removing bad debts from the bank’s books before listing on the market.
But the group has aggressively expanded into new areas, raising more than $ 100 billion in debt markets. Lai also took Huarong into industries ranging from brokerage and insurance to leasing and real estate development, ultimately drawing the attention of regulators seeking to reduce financial risk.
Caixin, the respected trade publication, reported that 100 properties in southern China have been distributed to Lai’s ex-wife and her mistresses. He was also found guilty of bigamy.
China executed 2,000 people in 2018, by far the most in the world, down 5,000 in 2010 and 12,000 in 2002, according to estimates by the Dui Hua Foundation, an advocacy group.
Margaret Lewis, a law professor at Seton Hall University in the United States, said Lai’s execution was a “shocking” reminder that the death penalty remains a powerful weapon in China.
“Despite efforts by critics inside and outside of China to limit its use, the government still uses the death penalty to send out strong warnings. . . that corruption remains a central concern, ”she said.
“The short time between conviction and execution highlights long-standing concerns about how carefully death sentences are reviewed and the ability of defendants to have a chance to challenge the government’s cause,” Ms Lewis added.