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September 11, 2015

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‘Guo Meimei Baby’ sent to jail for running a casino

GUO Meimei, the woman at the center of a Red Cross credibility crisis, was yesterday sentenced to five years in prison and fined 50,000 yuan (US$7,840) for running a casino.

The 24-year-old gained notoriety in 2011 when she described her lavish lifestyle on Sina Weibo and claimed to be a commercial manager with the Red Cross Society of China.

“Guo Meimei Baby,” as she is known online, posted photos of her opulent lifestyle to nearly 2 million followers, posing in front of a Maserati and sipping a drink in business class on a plane.

The Red Cross denied any ties to Guo, and the woman later insisted that she had made up her job title. However, the scandal dealt a major blow to the charity’s reputation and donations plummeted.

Guo was detained last year on suspicion of illegal gambling during the football World Cup, and China Central Television aired her lengthy “confession.”

Clad in an orange prison vest then, she acknowledged that she had helped organize a gambling ring and had “many times” engaged in sex for money.

There was no mention of the latter crime in the verdict handed down yesterday by a court in Beijing.

Prosecutors said Guo had organized poker sessions at a rented apartment in the capital in March, June and July 2013 with about 2.14 million yuan at stake. A police investigation revealed she took a cut of between 3 and 5 percent on each game played.

In court, Guo claimed she wasn’t running a casino but just gambling.

In Chinese law, the sentence for running a casino can be up to 10 years while gambling carries a maximum three-year term.

The CCTV program aired last August claimed that Guo paid for her luxurious lifestyle, which included expensive handbags and luxury cars, by charging hundreds of thousands of yuan for sex.

Wang Jun, a former board member of Zhonghong Bo’ai Asset Management Co, was her “sugar daddy,” CCTV reported.

He is said to have given her a Maserati and also helped when Guo said she wanted to become an executive. At the time, Wang, who is in his late forties, was involved in a charity project approved by the Chinese Red Cross and Guo invented her affiliation with a “made-up” Red Cross operation, CCTV reported.

Wang was detained by police last year over unspecified offenses.


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