Culture Aug 12

Chinese official pleads guilty to taking $257.7 million in bribes

Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of China Huarong Asset Management Co, was reported to have illegally obtained two "one hundreds" – more than 100 houses and 100 mistresses

Chinese official pleads guilty to taking $257.7 million in bribes
Lai Xiaomin, seen in March 2016, when he was chairman of China Huarong Asset Management Co Ltd, speaks during the Boao Forum for Asia Conference in southern China's Hainan province. He has pleaded guilty in court to illegally obtaining a record sum of money. File photo: AFP.

(ATF) Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of China Huarong Asset Management and a senior banking regulator,  pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of bribery, corruption and bigamy, at Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court.

Indeed, Lai, who turned 58 last month, has earned a place in the record books – and Wikipedia – for all the wrong reasons.

From 2008 to 2018, Lai Xiaomin was director of the General Office of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, head of the People's Bank of China's banking supervisory department, president of the party committee of China Huarong Asset Management Co Ltd (the country's biggest bad debt manager), and held a range of other senior positions.

But from the end of 2009 to January 2018, Lai Xiaomin took advantage of his position and worked with others to obtain public funds.

It all came crashing down in April 2018, when Lai was charged with seeking illegitimate benefits for others, soliciting and illegally accepting property given by related units and individuals – which totalled more than 1.788 billion yuan ($257.7 million).

He was expelled from the party, removed from public office and charged in February 2019.

The court in Tianjin was told that all the illegal gains, except for about 104 million yuan, was eventually recovered. He ended up making a statement, pleading guilty and repenting in court.

Two 'one hundreds' 

China Central TV reported that Lai had two "one hundreds" – that is to say, he had more than 100 houses and 100 mistresses. Cash seized from his properties weighed three tonnes.

The previous record amount of illegal funds obtained by a corrupt official had been around $150 million.

In related news on August 12, the Intermediate People's Court in Dezhou City, Shandong Province, started proceedings against Zhao Changqing, the former party secretary and vice chairman of the Chinese Calligraphers Association.

From 2006 to 2019, the defendant Zhao Changqing successively used his position to accumulate more than 24.86 million yuan in bribes by helping others to be approved as members of the Chinese Calligraphy Association.

In both cases sentences have yet to be announced.