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November 5, 2009

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Noted educator shown leniency over illegal loans

A COURT in southwest China's Sichuan Province has given a light sentence to a legendary schoolmaster who was convicted of illegally borrowing 123 million yuan (US$18 million) from the public to fund his school.

Tian Rong, principal of the Huarun School in Xinjin County of Sichuan's capital Chengdu, was sentenced on Tuesday to a three-year prison term with a five-year reprieve and fined 60,000 yuan. His school was fined 300,000 yuan, China Youth Daily reported yesterday.

Tian was released on Tuesday afternoon.

The reprieve means he will not serve the three years behind bars if he behaves well in the ensuing five years.

Tian, who was master of the Huarun School since its launch in 1993, borrowed 123 million yuan from 585 adults, 22 companies and 116 students from 1995 to 2008 and returned 98.63 million of the loans, the court said.

He was convicted of illegally raising money from the public and disturbing the social financial order, the court said. Yet, the court gave him a light punishment because Tian admitted his guilt and promised never to repeat his actions. In addition, he did not engage in corrupt practices, and all the loans were used to run the school, the court said.

Teachers present in the courtroom on Tuesday were in tears after hearing the verdict. Many offered support and best wishes to the schoolmaster, the report said.

Tian enjoys a high reputation for turning the original one-building Huarun School into a large education group with an array of services from kindergarten to primary, middle and high school.

All Huarun's facilities are leaders in educational quality among local schools, according to earlier China Youth Daily reports.

Tian has been elected as a lawmaker in Xinjin County and named one of the top schoolmasters in Chengdu for his achievements.

But in February last year, he was sacked after he was accused of illegally borrowing from 600 debtors including banks, school faculty and construction companies.

Dozens of debtors offered him support, however, writing a letter to education authorities that praised Tian as a clean, dedicated "public servant."


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