Chair of Huarong Asset Management Lai Xiaomin Sentenced to Death for Bribery, Bigamy, Corruption

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The former chair and party secretary for one of China’s big four asset management firms has been sentenced to death over bribery and corruption charges.

On 5 January 2021 the Tianjin Municipal Second Intermediate People’s Court announced that Lai Xiaomin (赖小民), formerly the chair and party secretary for China Huarong Asset Management, had been sentenced to death for crimes including bribery, corruption and bigamy.

The court said that all of Lai’s personal assets had been confiscated, and that he had been deprived of political rights for the remainder of his life.

For for the crime of corruption Lai was sentenced to an 11 year prison term and the confiscation of 2 million yuan of his personal assets, while for the crime of bigamy he received a one year prison sentence.

The court also ruled that all of property that Lai received via bribes as well as proceeds of such property would be recovered and allocated to China’s national treasury.

The trial found that during the decade-long period from 2008 to 2018 Lai Xiaomin used his positions as chair of the office of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), vice-party secretary and president of China Huarong Asset Management Company (中国华融资产管理公司), and party secretary of China Huarong Asset Management Co., Ltd. to obtain bribes worth 1.788 billion yuan (approx. USD$276.857 million) in total either directly or for his affiliates.

During the period from the end of 2009 until January 2018 Lai used his official positions at Huarong to embezzle over 25.13 million yuan (approx. USD$3.89 million) in public funds.

According to authorities Lai also engaged in “long-term co-habitation with other people in nominal conjugal relationships while his lawful marriage with his wife was ongoing, and reared children.”

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection first opened an investigation into Lai in April 2018, which was followed by his expulsion from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on 15 October 2018. Tianjin’s Second Intermediate People’s Court commenced its public hearing of Lai’s crimes on 11 August 2020.

Huarong is one of four asset management firms established by the Chinese government in 1999 to help clean up distressed debt in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

The firm became a limited company in 2012, while seven strategic investors obtained stakes in the firm in August 2014, including China International Capital Corporation, CITIC Securities International, COFCO Group, Fosun International, Goldman Sachs, Khazanah Nasional and Warburg Pincus International. China’s Ministry of Finance nonetheless remained Huarong’s controlling shareholder with a majority stake.

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