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Man gets death penalty for Ponzi schem

A GOVERNMENT chauffeur in East China's Zhejiang Province was sentenced to death penalty with a two-year reprieve by Lishui City Intermediate Court yesterday for swindling 260 million yuan (US$38.04 million) in a Ponzi scheme that involved several officials, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Lu Weiqiang, a driver employed by the Lishui City Government, has spent more than 40 million yuan on gamble, cars and houses before surrendering to police on April 24 last year as he was unable to return funds and interests to investors who participated in his scheme, according to Xinhua.

With the help of several senior officials in Lishui, Lu raised the funds from 28 individuals and companies for so-called construction projects, bank loans and international trade, and promised investors monthly returns of 2 to 12 percent.

Local police seized Lu's personal assets worth about 10 million yuan and found he had lost more than 20 million yuan in Macau casinos and spent 6.1 million yuan on land purchases for building factories which hadn't opened for business yet. He also bought cars and houses.

Disciplinary authorities in Lishui intervened in Lu's case becasue several local officials were involved.

Chen Weida, deputy director of Lishui Public Security Bureau, for example, loaned money raised from his relatives and friends to Lu. He also persuaded some companies to invest in Lu's scheme.

Li Feng, deputy director of Lishui Land and Resources Bureau, helped Lu obtain 10.2 million yuan from companies together with Wu Yi, a Party official in charge of legislative affairs.

Lin Bin, head of the personnel division of the general office of the Chinese Communist Party Lishui Committee, accepted commission from Lu for raising funds for him.

Chen and Lin have been sacked while Li and Wu have been given severe warnings.


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