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April 22, 2010

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2 developers toppled - for life

TWO ex-executives of the developer of the collapsed building in Shanghai's Lotus Riverside residential complex received life prison terms yesterday.

Que Jingde, 52, former board chairman of Shanghai Meidu Real Estate, was jailed for life and fined 2 million yuan (US$292,968) for taking more than 33.7 million yuan in state-owned assets for personal use along with Zhang Zhiqin, 51, one of his former deputies.

Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court said Zhang played an equal role.

Zhang was also charged with embezzling 440 million yuan of company capital to buy financial products for private profit and for being directly responsible for the building's collapse by giving incorrect orders.

The court fined him 5 million yuan as he held more shares in the transformed companies than Que.

The court said it had given the two lenient sentences since they returned all the embezzled money and surrendered.

Que was director of the Meilong Land Acquisition Service Institute in Minhang District where Zhang worked.

From September 2000 to April 2001, the duo hid part of Meidu's assets during the company's reform into a private entity and turned 33.7 million yuan worth of public assets, all real estate, into holdings free of charge.

The reform of Meidu was completed in April 2001, when Zhang became board chairman and owned 64 percent of its shares. Que was a fellow board member and held 15 percent of the shares.

Zhang appointed an unlicensed builder to dig the underground garage at Lotus Riverside, gave wrong orders and failed to monitor the work, the court heard.

From March 2009 to June 2009, Zhang embezzled 440 million yuan of the sales money from the Lotus Riverside project for his own use.

The building toppled on June 27, 2009, killing a worker and causing direct economic losses of 19.46 million yuan.

Six other people responsible for the building's collapse were jailed for three to five years on February 11.


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