By JOE McDONALD, AP Business Writer
BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese-born Canadian tycoon who disappeared from Hong Kong in 2017 was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison for a string of billionaire financial crimes and his company was fined $8.1 billion, announced a court.
Xiao Jianhua was convicted of misusing billions of dollars in bank and insurance deposits controlled by his Tomorrow Group and offering bribes to officials, Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court said on its social media account .
Xiao was fined 6.5 million yuan ($950,000) and his company 55 billion yuan ($8.1 billion), the court said.
Xiao was last seen in a Hong Kong hotel in January 2017 and was believed to have been taken to the mainland by Chinese authorities. News later said he was under investigation by anti-graft authorities, but no details were given.
The Canadian government said diplomats were unable to attend his July 5 trial.
Tomorrow Group has been linked to a number of anti-corruption prosecutions and seizures of financial firms by regulators.
Friday’s announcement said Xiao and Tomorrow Group were convicted of misappropriating more than 311.6 billion yuan ($46 billion) from the public and misusing entrusted assets and money totaling 148.6 billion yuan. yuan ($21.8 billion).
Xiao disappeared amid a flurry of prosecutions against Chinese businessmen accused of wrongdoing.
This fueled speculation that the ruling Communist Party may be kidnapping people outside the continent. Hong Kong at the time banned 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 that it is violating the autonomy promised when the territory returned to China in 1997. The Communist Party imposed a national security law on 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 that he had been taken against his will.
At the time of his disappearance, Xiao was worth nearly $6 billion, making him the 32nd richest person in China, according to the Hurun Report, which tracks the country’s wealthy.
In 2020, regulators seized nine companies controlled by Xiao.
This included four insurers, two securities firms, two trust companies and one company involved in financial futures. Business magazine Caixin reported at the time that the seized assets amounted to nearly 1 billion yuan ($150 million).
A retired banking regulator, Xue Jining, admitted to taking 400 million yuan ($62 million) in bribes in a corruption case linked to Baoshang Bank Ltd. in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, which regulators seized from Tomorrow in 2019.
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