Chinese-Canadian Billionaire sentenced 13 years in prison for financial crimes, his company fined $8.1 billion

Chinese-Canadian Billionaire sentenced 13 years in prison for financial crimes, his company fined $8.1 billion

A court in Shanghai has sentenced a Chinese-born Canadian tycoon, Xiao Jianhua, to 13 years in prison for a multibillion-dollar string of financial offences.

The company of the tycoon who disappeared from Hong Kong in 2017 was also fined $8.1 billion.

News reports said he was under investigation by anti-graft authorities, but no details were released.

Xiao Jianhua was convicted of misusing billions of dollars of deposits from banks and insurers controlled by his Tomorrow Group and offering bribes to officials, the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court said on its social media account.

CTV News reports that Xiao was fined 6.5 million yuan (US$950,000) and his company was fined 55 billion yuan (US$8.1 billion), the court said.

The Canadian government said diplomats were blocked from attending his July 5 trial.

According to the report, Tomorrow Group has been linked to a series of anti-corruption prosecutions and seizures of financial companies by regulators.

Friday's announcement said Xiao and Tomorrow Group were convicted of improperly taking more than 311.6 billion yuan (US$46 billion) from the public and misusing entrusted property and money totalling 148.6 billion yuan (US$21.8 billion).

Xiao vanished amid a flurry of prosecutions of Chinese businesspeople accused of misconduct.

That fueled speculation the ruling Communist Party might be abducting people outside the mainland. Hong Kong at that time prohibited Chinese police from operating in the former British colony, which has a separate legal system.

Since then, Beijing has tightened control over Hong Kong, prompting complaints it is violating the autonomy promised when the territory returned to China in 1997. The Communist Party imposed a national security law in Hong Kong in 2020 and has imprisoned pro-democracy activists.

Hong Kong police investigated Xiao's disappearance and said he crossed the border into the mainland. An advertisement in the Ming Pao newspaper in Xiao's name the same week denied he was taken against his will.

At the time of his disappearance, Xiao was worth nearly US$6 billion, making him China's 32nd wealthiest person, according to the Hurun Report, which follows the country's wealthy.

Regulators in 2020 seized nine companies controlled by Xiao, which includes four insurers, two securities firms, two trust firms and a company involved in financial futures. The business magazine Caixin reported at the time that the seized assets totalled almost 1 billion yuan (US$150 million).

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