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December 19, 2009

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Death sentence for scam woman

A FORMER high-flying businesswoman was sentenced to death in Zhejiang Province yesterday for orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme.

The scam lifted 770 million yuan (US$112.77 million) from 19 investors in less than two years. Jinhua City's Intermediate People's Court found Wu Ying, 28, guilty of running the scheme.

The court also ordered all of Wu's personal property confiscated, China News Service reported yesterday.

Wu, who was listed sixth on the Hurun Report's Rich Women's List of 2006 for China's mainland, started to raise money from friends by promising high returns.

She offered them deals that included guarantees of an 80 percent yearly interest rate and a 5 percent daily return for short-term investors.

Wu said she used subsequent investors' money to pay the original investors and in the process earned a solid reputation in Zhejiang as a financier.

Her debts were as high as 14 million yuan by the end of 2005. Instead of then calling a halt to the fraud, Wu expanded the scheme by starting a company, Bense Holdings Group Co, in 2006.

She started to look for more victims in Zhejiang cities of Yiwu, Dongyang, and Ningbo, by inviting people to invest in the company and offering even higher interest.

Most of the 19 victims were loan sharks. The court heard that 66 people lent money to one "victim," Lin Weiping, and their cash disappeared courtesy of Wu's scheme. Lin was jailed for six years and fined 300,000 yuan in January.

Wu squandered 4 million yuan on clothes, 6 million yuan on entertainment and about 20 million yuan on luxury cars that were unused.

She donated large amounts to charities in the name of Bense and started more firms in a ruse to show her business was well capitalized.

The court also heard that the books of Wu's company were "a mess" and none of the three accountancy firms hired by prosecutors was able to perform a realistic audit.

The judge in Wu's case and her defense lawyer both told China National Radio that she would launch an appeal.




 

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