A former senior official at the Hong Kong-based investment arm of Hubei province who misappropriated $188 million for gambling and speculating was sentenced to death yesterday. Jin Jianpei, 55, was given the death penalty by the Wuhan Intermediate People's Court for graft and embezzlement in what was believed to be the province's biggest corruption case, Xinhua reported. The verdict on Jin, general manager of the now bankrupt Yi F Trading Co, came a day after official media reported Beijing had imposed stringent rules on overseas-registered state companies, requiring them to seek central government approval for large-scale asset restructuring and capital deployment to prevent drainage of state assets. Jin is among a number of senior officials of SAR-based mainland companies investigated by mainland and Hong Kong authorities for alleged economic irregularities. According to prosecutors, he misappropriated company funds totalling $18.5 million from Yi F and another company between October 1997 and July last year, Xinhua said. The money was all lost on gambling in Macau and speculation in Hang Seng Index futures. During the period between February 1997 and August 1998, Jin also used various pretexts to 'borrow' funds worth $169.8 million from Yi F and several other companies. Of that amount, $97.4 million was spent on gambling in Macau and $30.2 million on futures. Jin returned about $44.8 million to the companies before he was caught, resulting in a net loss of about $143 million. His losses had put Yi F into liquidation in January, causing an outcry among foreign and local banks. Jin assumed his post as general manager of Yi F in 1990 and is also the former director of the Hubei provincial Government's representative office in the SAR.