Lai Xiaomin, the former banker convicted of China’s largest known corruption scandal, was executed yesterday “in accordance with legal procedures” after being sentenced earlier this month by the Supreme People’s Court. Although no further details of the execution were disclosed, the authorities explained that the former magnate was able to meet with his relatives for a few moments before the execution of the death penalty.
The case of Lai Xiaomin is the most notorious of the purge against corruption unleashed by President Xi Jinping, which has led to the removal or expulsion from the Communist Party of dozens of officials and businessmen. The scandal stirred the country when it was learned that the former banker had obtained 225 million euros (1,788 in its conversion into yuan) in corruption and bribes carried out during a decade, between 2008 and 2018, when he was one of the main leaders of the China Banking Regulatory Commission. The financier was also charged with bigamy by marrying and having children while married to another woman.
A very wealthy life
Xiaomin was president of Huarong, a state-controlled fund management company – actually one of China’s ‘bad’ banks – where he embezzled more than three million euros. The court that tried him in the city of Tianjin held during the trial that the financier repeatedly demanded bribes in exchange for the concession of projects to certain companies or simply promotions, which “endangered the security and stability of finances nationals ”. “Anarchic and greedy”, thus he was able to amass a fortune with which he led a life of luxury and allowed him to take ownership of numerous high-end properties and cars, among other assets.
Arrested in 2018, the tycoon was immediately expelled from the Communist Party of China. The local press described his actions as the “biggest financial scandal” to have occurred in the Asian giant whose judicial system, with the rapid execution of the prisoner, barely twenty days after the sentence was handed down, would be setting an example of a heavy hand against corruption.
Although the executions in the country are considered a state secret, various civil rights organizations estimate that there are thousands a year. The latest, most rigorous studies date back a decade and cite a rate higher than that of the United States, with about 60% of all executions globally.
The majority of death sentences are for serious murder and drug trafficking, and capital punishment is rarely applied to corruption cases. In many cases, it is modified by life imprisonment.