Extradited banker jailed for 12 years

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 April, 2006, 12:00am

Corrupt Bank of China sub-branch chief receives maximum sentence under plea bargain

The former Bank of China manager extradited to the mainland from the US on corruption charges has been sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment.

The Intermediate People's Court in Jiangmen city also confiscated personal property worth 1 million yuan from Yu Zhendong, the former manager of Bank of China's Kaiping sub-branch in Guangdong, who was sentenced on charges of graft and embezzlement. Yu is the first corrupt official repatriated to the mainland after China ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption last October.

Mainland media reported Yu's sentence and conviction served to warn other fugitive officials facing corruption charges. The Commerce Ministry published a report estimating 4,000 officials had fled China in recent years, taking US$50 billion in embezzled funds.

The court was told Yu conspired with two other former Kaiping managers, Xu Chaofan , 40, and Xu Guojun , 47, and embezzled US$82.47 million in bank funds since 1992.

Making use of loopholes in the bank's system for managing funds, they falsified accounts and remitted money to private companies overseas to cover corporate expenditure, share and exchange trading, personal expenses and for gambling, according to Xinhua.

They also conspired to apply for loans from the BOC Kaiping branch in the names of their companies, and embezzled US$132 million, 273 million yuan and $20 million for their operations. The companies then generated an additional $67.3 million in illicit returns.

The US government has also prosecuted the two Xus, their wives, and a relative still at large, for laundering US$485 million embezzled on the mainland, through Las Vegas casinos and other channels.

After the trio fled to Canada and the US via Hong Kong in October 2001, Beijing provided information to help the FBI with the arrests, after which the Americans helped return Yu to China.

Yu was sentenced to 12 years in prison in a Las Vegas court in February 2004 for money laundering, entering the US with forged documents and immigration fraud. Under a plea bargain, Yu agreed to his extradition on condition that he would not be tortured, executed or jailed for more than 12 years, and that his wife and children would be allowed to stay in the US.

In September last year, Yu testified against the two Xus in Guangzhou for their Las Vegas court hearing, believed to be the first time the mainland had allowed a US deposition to be taken on its territory. Xu Chaofan, who was believed to be the mastermind of the scheme, has rejected plea-bargain deals of 25 years while Xu Guojun has turned down an offer of 20 years.