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May 14, 2011

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Jail for embezzler who hid in Thailand for 11 years

A FINANCIAL expert who went on the run in Thailand for 11 years after embezzling 11.53 million yuan (US$1.77 million) received a 14-year jail sentence yesterday.

The Changning District People's Court also ordered the confiscation of 2 million yuan worth of Chen Zhiming's personal property.

Some 8 million yuan of the money taken by Chen, a former employee of a securities company, has never been recovered.

Chen, who missed his family in Shanghai, was persuaded by consulate officers in Thailand to surrender to police early last year.

He told the court at yesterday's hearing that he didn't have any of the embezzled money as he had lent it to a friend for investment and had lost it in the stock market.

But Changning District prosecutors pointed out that the friend referred to, named Wu Chen, had provided receipts with Chen's signature that could prove Chen had taken all the money.

Chen, 40, was a client manager of Shanghai Securities Department of Hainan Saige International Trust Investment Co Ltd. Though his income was much higher than his peers, he was unsatisfied, the court heard.

Through work he knew a financial staffer, surnamed Liu, with a local trade company, as Liu often bought financial products with his company's spare capital through Chen.

In 1998, Chen suggested Liu use cash deposited with his bank to buy financial products offering high rates of interest.

Liu's company bought two products and Chen paid 275,000 yuan as interest, promising the remainder when the products expired.

But Chen got hold of his company's securities' stamp and set up bogus contracts. He invested the money, gambling that he would make such huge returns that he could pay the interest and keep a slice of the profits for himself.

But Chen lost the money playing the stock market and fled to Thailand in November 1998 before the scam was uncovered.

While on the run, Chen married a Thai woman and lived an ordinary life. However, he was always worried about his crime and decided to return home to face the music.


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