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Ex-tycoon sidesteps sentence of death

(China Daily)

10:19, April 21, 2012

Wu Ying, a 31-year-old businesswoman, stands trials at the Jinhua City Intermediate People's Court in East China's Zhejiang province, April 16, 2009 file photo. (Xinhua)

Move seen as change in China's attitude toward private lending

The Supreme People's Court on Friday rejected the death sentence for millionaire Wu Ying, in what experts described as a possible turnaround in the Chinese justice system's attitude toward private fundraising.

While upholding the conviction and the legitimacy of previous judicial proceedings, the top court declined to approve the sentence and referred the case back to the high court of Zhejiang province.

"Finally I can breathe," said Wu Yongzheng, Wu's father. "But it's still not time to totally relax since it's not the final verdict."

Wu, once considered one of the richest women in China, was sentenced to death in 2009 by the local court in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, for illegally fundraising 770 million yuan ($122 million), more than half of which she lost in failed investments.

Wu's case attracted widespread attention because it showed the inadequacy of the nation's financial system to support small and medium-sized enterprises, which left room for fundraising initiatives by private individuals.

Zhang Yanfeng, one of Wu's lawyers, said she did not swindle funds from the public, but raised money from friends and did not use it for illegal purposes or personal indulgence.

Wu was involved in what is known as shadow banking - financial transactions outside regulated institutions in which money is raised privately, often with promises of high returns.

Such extralegal activities have flourished as large State banks have tightened the reins on lending to small firms.

China's law stipulates that such financial initiatives are punishable by death when the money involved is "especially huge", as it was in Wu's case.

Wu was born into a farming family in Zhejiang province. She dropped out of a technical school as a teenager, worked at her aunt's beauty salon and later opened two of her own.

She then opened a foot massage parlor and bought 10 cars, which she rented out. An entertainment center and a boutique featuring Korean clothes followed, as did investments in real estate and copper futures.

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PD User at 2012-04-22123.234.26.*
A death sentence by the lower court was unreasonable, thus I am glad the fair decision by your supreme court. By all means, charge her for illegal fundraising. Two years ago I bought a product from a foreign bank in Shanghai, fortunately I only lost 5 percent of my investment. Based on the size of the product I bet this bank would have lost a few hundred million of the customer's fund. Based on Ms Wu scenario, the CEO of this bank should also be prosecuted and given the death sentence for the financial lost!
  

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