Lai Changxing jailed for life in China for running multi-billion dollar smuggling ring
Chinese media reports that Lai Changxing has been jailed for life for running a multi-billion dollar smuggling ring.
Xinhua news agency said Lai Changxing, 53, extradited from Canada, was convicted and sentenced by a Fujian court.
Lai Changxing was accused of bribing officials and smuggling goods including cars, cigarettes and oil in one of China’s biggest political scandals.
He fled to Canada in 1999 and avoided extradition for 12 years by arguing he faced torture and execution in China.
Beijing promised Canada he would not be executed and he was deported in 2011.
Canada usually forbids the extradition of suspects to countries where they might face the death penalty, and the case severely tested diplomatic relations between the two.
The sentence was handed down by the Intermediate People’s Court of Xiamen – the city at the heart of Lai’s operations – after a trial which began in early April.
The court said Lai Changxing’s income that was obtained illegally would be confiscated, Xinhua reports.
Lai Changxing was accused of running a huge smuggling operation from 1991 to 1999.
He established a complex network to cheat import tariffs of 13.99 billion yuan ($2.21 billion) on goods worth 27.39 billion yuan, the court said.
The goods included cigarettes, cars, heating and cooking oil, textiles and chemicals.
It also said Lai Chanxing and his associates bribed 64 government officials with amounts totaling 39.13 million yuan.
Some 300 people were punished for their involvement in the operation.
“The sums involved are unusually large, and the details are extraordinarily serious,” the court said, according to the Xinhua report.
It is not clear whether Lai Changxing is planning to appeal.
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