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Smuggler Lai Changxing gets life imprisonment

(Xinhua)

14:47, May 18, 2012

XIAMEN, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Lai Changxing, the kingpin of a notorious smuggling ring, was sentenced to life imprisonment Friday for smuggling and bribery, the Intermediate People's Court of Xiamen said.

The sentence was handed down given the graveness of Lai's offences and "an extremely large amount of money" involved, and Lai as the mastermind should be held responsible for all the crimes his syndicate committed, the court said.

The court deprived his political rights for life and confiscated all his personal assets, according to the verdict.

His illegal income would also be confiscated, the court said.

The court found that Lai, 53, had formed a smuggling ring by establishing firms and bases in Hong Kong and Xiamen since 1991.

From December 1995 to May 1999, Lai's syndicate smuggled cigarettes, cars, refined oil, vegetable oil, chemical materials, textile materials and other commodities worth 27.395 billion yuan (4.35 billion U.S. dollars) and evaded duties of 13.999 billion yuan, according to the court.

To facilitate his transactions, Lai himself and his ring members, instructed by Lai, bribed 64 government officials with 39.13 million yuan between 1991 and 1999, the court said.

Lai fled to Canada mid-1999 to avoid punishment but was repatriated to China on July 23, 2011. He was then arrested and investigated for smuggling and bribery.

Lai was prosecuted in February and the trial ran from April 6-22 with his defense attorneys and family members present.

The case should be seen as a clear sign of China's unyielding determination to fight corruption and crime, said an unidentified official.

"No matter how powerful and cunning criminals are, once they commit crimes in China, they will be punished according to law," the official said. "The authority of Chinese laws and judicial sovereignty of China shall not be undermined and justice will be done."

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