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Lenders wary after illegal fundraisers get death penalty

(China Daily)

13:09, November 09, 2011

SHANGHAI - The first ever death penalty on illegal fundraising in Lishui, Zhejiang province, has sent a chill across the underground banking markets in Wenzhou, a eastern commercial hub haunted by shadow lending, and several other cities around China.

The Intermediate People's Court of Lishui on Monday sentenced three men convicted of fraud to death for illegally soliciting funds from the public. One of them, charged also with flight of capital contribution, was to be executed immediately while the other two were given a two-year reprieve.

Three others, convicted of fraudulent fundraising and illegal pooling of savings deposits, were given sentences ranging from life to three years' imprisonment.

The culprits were said to have raised a total of more than 5.5 billion yuan ($867 million) from about 15,000 families. They admitted to have defrauded more than 1.4 billion yuan of the capital raised.

Although court precedents do not apply in China's legal system, judges usually defer to past court rulings on major cases.

"Although there is no precedent in the current law in China, the judges will tend to defer to follow the case as a reference judgment to be applied in future cases with similar details at other courts," said Ren Ningning, a judge from a court in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province.

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