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Pyramid scheme woman loses death verdict appeal

By Cherry Cao (Shanghai Daily)

15:11, January 19, 2012

A WOMAN once listed as the sixth richest on China's mainland has had her appeal against a death sentence for organizing a huge pyramid scheme rejected.

The High People's Court of Zhejiang Province said yesterday the facts in the case of Wu Ying, 30, were clear and the evidence "reliable and adequate" when the Intermediate People's Court of Jinhua City handed down the sentence in December 2009.

The Zhejiang court said Wu "brought huge losses to the nation and people with her severe crimes, and should therefore be severely punished." It also said her scam, as it involved an "huge" amount of money, deserved severe punishment and the sentence was appropriate.

The sentence is still subject to review by the Supreme People's Court.

Wu was also deprived of her political rights and had her personal property confiscated by the city court in 2009.

Under the scam, Wu took 770 million yuan (US$121.8 million) from 19 investors between May 2005 and February 2007.

Wu, who was listed sixth on the Hurun Report's Rich Women's List for 2006 for China's mainland, raised money from friends by promising high returns.

She offered them deals that included guarantees of an 80 percent yearly interest rate and a 5 percent daily returns.

Wu confessed she used subsequent investors' money to pay the original investors and in the process earned a solid reputation in Zhejiang as a financier.

Her debts had reached as much as 14 million yuan by the end of 2005 but she then began expanded the scheme by starting a company, Bense Holdings Group Co, in 2006.

She began to look for more investors in Zhejiang, by inviting people to invest in Bense and offering even higher rates of interest.

The original verdict sparked an outcry, with many people calling for a more lenient punishment, Xinhua news agency said. The reaction grew stronger last year after China decided to do away with the death penalty for 13 types of economic and other non-violent crimes.


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