A 'greedy' businessman who escaped justice for seven years was jailed yesterday for his role in a counterfeiting conspiracy. Factory owner Li Shang-hai, 48, was in China on business when police caught his partners in 1989. He was the financier in the plot to churn out fake banknotes and make a fast fortune. The conspiracy was led by disgraced police inspector Yip Man-kui, the Commercial Crime Bureau's counterfeit expert. Mr Justice Gareth Lugar-Mawson yesterday sentenced Li to five years and two months in prison. 'Legitimate businessmen are needed in these sorts of schemes, just as much as . . . skilled artists,' he said. 'You are a greedy man who came to know other greedy men. You joined the money-making scheme and went along with their ideas.' Defence counsel Ching Huang QC told the High Court: 'Li did not come back to Hong Kong because he did not wish to be arrested. 'For the past seven years, he has established himself as an honest and industrious worker.' Li's electroplating factory in Shenzhen now employs more than 100 people. But his career was cut short last August when officers from the Chinese Public Security Bureau sent him back to Hong Kong to stand trial. He admitted conspiring with several others to forge US$100 banknotes. Li invested HK$200,000 in the counterfeiting scheme. He also served as director of the handbag company established to hide the gang's illegal business dealings. In July 1988, Yip told undercover agent Lam Yip-lan he wanted to do a 'big job' before turning to more honest business ventures. 'Yip said he was not suited for the police force,' prosecutor Richard Turnbull said. 'He was worried about the future and 1997.' On July 20, 1989, police searched Yip's flat and found 78 fake US$100 notes, along with counterfeiting equipment. He is serving a 13-year term. Printer Chan Hang-on and artist Chu Kwok-wah were both sent to prison for eight years. Another gang member, Chan Chuen-kam, was jailed for 12 years, while courier Ng Kuen-fong got five years for uttering forged banknotes.