Businesswoman sentenced to death

Updated: 2013-05-16 01:39

By Yu Ran and Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

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A court in the city of Wenzhou on Wednesday sentenced a businesswoman to death for illegal fundraising activities.

The case once again triggered discussion among the public over whether the death penalty should be applied to economic crimes.

Lin Haiyan, a 39-year-old woman from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, received the death sentence for illegally raising 640 million yuan ($104.1 million) and misappropriating 428 million yuan of that sum, according to the verdict from Wenzhou's Intermediate People's Court.

The court said this was the biggest illegal fundraising case in the city so far.

Lin set up Wenzhou Xinfu Investment Consulting Co in May 2008, and raised money from more than 20 investors between 2007 and 2011 by promising to offer high returns, the court said.

However, she used all the money to buy stocks and futures, which resulted in huge losses, it added.

The verdict said Lin illegally acted as an agent for a trading platform for stocks and futures owned by the Hong Kong-based Quam Securities Co Ltd, without authorization from the appropriate government departments.

From 2008 onward, Lin opened stock and future accounts under 20 different names and use the raised funds for futures trading.

After suffering huge losses, she lied to the lenders, saying that she had obtained profits from the futures market so that she could raise more money from colleagues, friends and relatives, the court said.

Her behavior was exposed at the end of October 2011 when she eventually failed to pay back investors, the verdict said.

Wenzhou was hit by a severe credit crisis after many local entrepreneurs failed to repay their debts and fled the city due to the sudden tightening of lending policies among State-owned banks for small and medium-sized enterprises in September 2011.

"Lin is one of the many fundraisers who cheated too many people and failed to repay their debts. Meanwhile, we're also seeing many other smaller illegal fundraising cases in the city," said Zhou Dewen, chairman of the Wenzhou SME Development Association.

Lin's verdict will now be submitted to the country's top court as required by the Criminal Procedure Law.