China executes former top banker for taking $277 million in bribes

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A Chinese man who once ran one of the country’s most powerful banks was executed Friday for taking $277 million in bribes.

Lai Xiaomin was a top Communist Party official until 2018, when he was fired and charged with corruption.

Lai, 58, was convicted earlier this month of soliciting and receiving the bribes between 2008 and 2018. He operated the state-run China Huarong Asset Management Co. from 2012-2018, giving him immense power in the Chinese financial system.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency said Lai’s $277 million was a record for graft since the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Lai was also convicted of bigamy, as prosecutors said he started a second marriage while still married to his first wife, the Associated Press reported.

Once he was charged, Lai’s guilt was a foregone conclusion, as Chinese prosecutors boast a 99% conviction rate.

Lai was executed Friday at a court in Tianjin, just southeast of Beijing, according to Xinhau News. He was allowed to meet with family before he was killed.

Party leader Xi Jinping has cracked down on corruption within the party since taking over in 2012, firing hundreds of officials. Very few, however, have been sentenced to death.

The exact number of executions in China is a state secret, but Amnesty International estimates China executes thousands of people each year, more than all other countries.

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