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China executes former top assets banker

January 29, 2021

Chinese CCTV media said Lai Xiaomin was executed, just weeks after being sentenced to death for taking "extremely large" bribes as well as for bigamy.

China Verurteilung von Lai Xiaomin zum Tode
Lai Xiaomin was executed three weeks after being sentenced to death in early JanuaryImage: AFP

Chinese state CCTV media did not state how Lai was executed in the northern city of Tianjin after reportedly being allowed a final encounter with close relatives. 

Tainjin's Second Intermediate People's Court had on January 5 sentenced him to death for taking "extremely large" bribes and showing "extreme malicious intent."

As former chairman of Huarong, a state-controlled asset management firm created in the 1990s, he was accused of amassing or seeking to collect 1.79 billion yuan ($260 million, €215 million) over a decade for favors, including promotions.

Cabinets stuffed with cash

At a sentencing hearing in early January, CCTV had shown footage of Beijing apartment safes and cabinets stuffed with cash and Lai making a purported confession, saying, "I did not dare to spend it." 

Stripped of his post in 2018, he was also found guilty of bigamy for living with a woman outside his marriage. 

Under an anti-corruption drive begun by President Xi Jinping, only one other high-ranking official has been executed in recent times — Zhao Liping, for homicide in 2016. 

Three other senior Communist Party members facing death sentences were subsequently given reprieves. 

China 'world's top executioner'

Amnesty International, however, ranks China "among the world’s top executioners," saying death sentences, enacted often in secrecy, run each year into the "thousands"— "more than all other countries in the world put together."  

Despite claims by China of progress towards judicial transparency, most death penalty information is classified as “state secrets, Amnesty added. 

Under the crackdown begun in 2012 under Xi, hundreds of officials at government entities have been snared, including a former head of China's insurance regulator. 

Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99%. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping waving, men standing in rows
Hundreds of officials removed in anti-corruption drive under Xi JinpingImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo

Jail for 'Belt and Road' lender 

On January 8, the Intermediate People's Court of Chengde, a city north of Beijing, imposed a lifelong jail sentence on Hu Huaibang, the former chairman of the China Development Bank (CDB). 

One of the world's richest lenders, CDB is the main source of financing for Beijing's multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to extend infrastructure, including railways and ports, across Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. 

ipj/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)