Mining tycoon Liu Han, believed to have links to China’s former security chief Zhou Yongkang, has been sentenced to death.
According to Xinhua agency, a Hubei court has found Liu Han and his brother Liu Wei guilty of “organizing and leading mafia-style crime and murder”.
The two men were among a group of 36 people charged with similar crimes.
Liu Han’s sentencing is believed to be part of a wider corruption crackdown linked to ZhouYongkang’s network.
The court verdict stated that, among other things, Liu Han and his group had “in an organized fashion obtained financial gains via illegal activities”.
They had also on multiple occasions “committed murder, harm and illegal detention”.
The verdict stated they relied on “the cover-ups and collusion of government employees” to illegally control gaming machines in Guanghan in Sichuan province.
Liu Han, who is the former head of mining conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group, was ranked 148th on Forbes‘ list of the richest Chinese business people in 2012.
His former company once tried to take over Australian miner Sundance Resources Ltd.
Chinese state media said previously that the Sichuan-based gang had had strong political ties that played a role in Liu Han’s appointment as a delegate in Sichuan’s political advisory body.
In recent months, several top officials from Sichuan province linked to Zhou Yongkang have come under scrutiny.
Zhou Yongkang was the party secretary in Sichuan province before becoming head of China’s Public Security Ministry in 2003.
In April, China announced it had removed from office Guo Yongxiang, a former Sichuan vice-governor, and that Sichuan’s former deputy party chief Li Chuncheng was being investigated for bribery.
Speculation has swirled for months that Zhou Yongkang is being investigated for corruption, although none of the rumors have been confirmed officially.