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Fraud billionaire may escape death penalty

11-07-2011 08:41 BJT

SHANGHAI - Wu Ying, a Zhejiang billionaire who was sentenced to death on her first trial in one of the country's biggest financial frauds committed by a woman, may have a narrow escape as the province's high people's court remands the case back for a new trial.

Wang Jun, a judge from the high people's court of Zhejiang province who's handling Wu's civil actions, said Jinhua intermediate people's court would rehear Wu's related civil cases covering disputes over Zhengjiang's Dongyang-based Bense Holding Group's property rights without offering any reason. Wang also mentioned that the two courts are in the process of transferring the case, according to Caixin.cn, a financial news media.

Thirty-year-old Wu, former owner of Bense Holding Group, was sentenced to death, a deprivation of her political rights for life and confiscation of all personal property at her original trial by the Jinhua intermediate people's court in December 2009.

The indictment said Wu swindled nearly 390 million yuan ($57 million) from 11 people by fraudulently promising high returns.

Wu then pleaded guilty to a lesser charge seven months ago at her appeal against an earlier conviction and against the death sentence she was handed.

The retrial concerned what Wu referred to as false arrest. Wu said she has been kept in unlawful detention for eight days by a group of people headed by Yang Zhi'ang, one of her creditors. Wu alleged she was robbed of cash and check, valued at 3.3 million yuan, plus several bank cards, luxury watch and jewelry, on Dec 20, 2006.

She was also forced to sign on more than 30 pieces of blank paper, which were later used as three transfer certificates of the housing ownership, receipts and a certificate giving the bearer Wu's power of attorney.

The three transfer certificates covered three properties under the Bense Group's name, which Wu's father, Wu Yongzheng, claimed were worth over 100 million yuan. One would have to be insane to sell at such a low price, said Wu Yongzheng to the media.

Wu Ying further claimed that the sale never happened, which could be investigated and verified by going through the record of banking transaction. The incident is said to have led to the collapse of Wu Ying's Bense Business Empire.

Wu Ying entrusted her father to lodge an appeal to this fake suit in 2008, which was lodged and subsequently dismissed, but she did not give up and kept demanding an explanation of the discrepancies and a clarification of the ownership to the housing property.

Wu's lawyer, Zhang Yangfeng, told Caixin.cn, the civil retrial augured well for Wu's criminal case. It might influence Wu's criminal sentence by offering a clear map of her company's fund flow even if it did not have a decisive effect, said Zhang.

According to Zhang, the news also brought hope to Wu in prison.

However, Wu Dong, a partner of M&A Law Firm, said the situation might not be as optimistic as Zhang suggested. "Theoretically speaking, there's possibility (that Wu might escape the death sentence), but the retrial is only for the civil action rather than the criminal one," said Wu.

"You may argue that two of them are entangled, but as far as I know the high people's court of Zhejiang is under big pressure - many of Zhejiang's local high officials called for Wu's death sentence," he said.

Wu impeached another seven officials from Dongyang and Yiwu (in 2011) in addition to her earlier exposure of 10 such. Dozens of Dongyang's local government officials had signed a letter asking the judge to sentence Wu Ying to death before the first trial.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: China Daily

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