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Ex-tycoon Wu Ying gets death with reprieve

By Cao Yin and Gao Changxin (China Daily)

08:10, May 22, 2012

An ex-tycoon, convicted of illegal fundraising, had her death sentence commuted by the High People's Court in East China's Zhejiang province on Monday.

The court passed a death sentence, with a two-year reprieve. This usually translates into life in prison and is often reduced further for good behavior.

Wu Ying, 31, once one of China's richest women, has also been deprived of political rights for life and her private property has been confiscated, according to the provincial court's final judgment.

The founder of the Bense Holding Group in Zhejiang was sentenced to death in December 2009 by an intermediate people's court in the province. She was found guilty of defrauding investors out of 380 million yuan ($60.2 million) but she had raised 770 million yuan from 11 lenders, promising high returns, from May 2005 to February 2007, the court said.

Wu still had 380 million yuan when the case was uncovered.

The court said Wu amassed the fortune by deceit and promising high returns as an incentive.

The province's High People's Court upheld the death sentence on Jan 18, but the Supreme People's Court overturned the judgment and sent the case back to the provincial court for re-sentencing on April 20.

It was not heard in public but the provincial court said on Monday's news release that all procedures had been followed.

Death sentences that are returned to the courts can be commuted directly, while those with questionable evidence or that followed incorrect procedures, must be heard by a new collegiate bench.

Wu changed her lawyer during the re-sentencing, opting for Wu Qian whom she felt was more familiar with the case.

The first four months of the year saw a massive 89 percent increase, year-on-year, in the number of cases concerning private fundraising in Wenzhou, according to a news release by the Wenzhou Intermediate People's Court on May 21.

From January to April, courts in Wenzhou received more than half the number of cases they received for all of 2011.

There were 6,510 cases, in the first quarter, involving some 3.85 billion yuan ($608 million).

Just over 12,000 cases in 2011 involved 5.4 billion yuan.

Legal disputes concerning fundraising are increasing in frequency in Wenzhou in the aftermath of a widespread credit crisis in the city last year that led to a flight of borrowers and panic among lenders.

The court announced it has strengthened its crackdown on parties that escape financial liabilities. Wenzhou Lucheng district court has set up a finance tribunal, the first in Zhejiang province.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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