Self-made Chinese billionaire's suspended death sentence changed to life in prison

Wu Ying, a Zhejiang businesswoman, was originally sentenced to death in a 770 million yuan fraud case in 2009, but has fought with appeals every step of the way

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 5:56pm

A mainland self-made billionaire convicted of illegally raising funds through fraud was granted a commutation on Friday morning that changed her two-year suspended death sentence to life imprisonment.

Zhejiang High People’s Court commuted the suspended death sentence for businesswoman Wu Ying in a public hearing at the provincial women’s prison in Hangzhou, where she will serve the jail term, Xinhua reported.

The court heard Wu behaved well in jail in the past two years and showed remorse for her guilt, state media said. Members of Wu’s family, local lawmakers and policy advisers attended the hearing, which was applied for by the prison.

Commutation is a common process on the mainland to those who received suspended death sentences.

Wu, 33, was originally sentenced to death in 2009 by an intermediate court in Jinhua, Zhejiang, for defrauding investors out of 770 million yuan (HK$967 million) in an illegal fundraising scheme. The sentence triggered heated discussion on illegal fundraising nationwide.

She appealed, and in early 2012, the High Court upheld the death sentence, triggering a public uproar over the tough punishment. The Supreme People’s Court, however, rejected the death penalty and sent the case back to the high court for a retrial.

In the retrial in May 2012, the punishment was lighter – a death sentence with a two-year reprieve. However, she appealed again to have the verdict reversed. The high court has not issued a reply.

“We are ordinary citizens, but we want to fight for justice and fairness for ourselves,” Wu’s father, Wu Yongzheng, told the South China Morning Post last year. “We hope the government could make amends for the mistake.”