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Number of illegal fundraising cases rises

By Zhang Yan  (China Daily)

09:36, April 27, 2013

Chinese courts have sentenced 1,449 people to prison terms of more than five years for involvement in illegal fundraising, a police official said on Friday.

The imprisoned were among a total of 4,170 people convicted since 2011 for such crimes, Miao Youshui, deputy director of the No 2 criminal tribunal under the Supreme People's Court, said during a news conference on Friday.

The number of illegal fundraising cases has been increasing in recent years, said Liu Wenxi, deputy director of the economic crime investigation bureau under the Ministry of Public Security, without giving details.

Last year, national police authorities handled more than 2,000 cases involving illegal fundraising, and the amount of money involved accounted for 16 percent of the total amount in all economic cases.

According to Du Jinfu, a Public Security Ministry official in charge of a task force targeting such crime, illegal fundraising usually promises high returns from fake projects to give the public a false impression that they are making investments.

Some spread fictitious information through online platforms such as websites, micro blogs, forums and instant messaging systems such as QQ and MSN to deceive the public, he said.

Liu said such crimes have extended from traditional fields, such as agriculture, forestry, real estate and education to technology, environmental protection and equity investment. Besides, private lending in some regions is likely to be a hotbed for illegal fundraising, he said.

"Illegal fundraising severely disrupts the country's economic and financial order, and harms the interests of the public, and we should resolutely crack down on such crimes," Liu said.

In a high-profile case, Wu Ying, an entrepreneur from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, was sentenced to death last year by a local court for illegal fundraising. The 31-year-old woman was convicted of raising 770 million yuan ($123.6 million) from investors from 2005 to 2007.

China's supreme court overturned Wu's death sentence, and re-sentenced her to death with a two-year reprieve, which usually is commuted to a long prison term.

According to the supreme court, an individual who raises more than 200,000 yuan or causes losses of 100,000 yuan can face the criminal charge of illegal fundraising.

Companies can face charges if they receive 1 million yuan or cause losses of 2.5 million yuan.

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