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High flier grounded for life

A HIGH-ranking space industry official who gambled up to 2 million yuan (US$293,140) a night in Hong Kong and Macau has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced Wang Daqing, the former assistant to the general manager of China Spaceflight Industry General Company, to life imprisonment for embezzlement and the misuse of public funds worth more than 9.72 million yuan, The Beijing News reported today.

Wang flew from Beijing to Hong Kong or Macau 17 times from from 2000 to 2003. Wang played big and could lose 2 million yuan a night, a fellow gambler surnamed Chen said.

One of Wang's employees said he managed two branch companies for the China Spaceflight Industry General Company but he never submitted balance sheets or profits to headquarters.

Wang was the only person authorized to use the money in the company's accounts and was the only one who knew the details of the accounts. Wang ordered employees in the finance department to hand over checks to a woman surnamed Ma in Shenzhen. Ma would then send the money to Hong Kong or Macau for gambling, mostly at the Hotel Lisboa in Macau, using her own accounts with underground banks.

Wang appealed to the Beijing Higher People's Court after the first hearing by the intermediate court, which sentenced him to life imprisonment for same crimes. The higher court rejected the appeal and ordered the court to deliver a second sentence.

Wang used 800,000 yuan from the company's funds to play the stock market as well.


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