Mou Qizhong, once dubbed the mainland's richest entrepreneur, has appealed against a life sentence handed down last week. Mou, found guilty last Tuesday of fraudulent use of letters of credit, filed the appeal with Hubei Higher People's Court on Monday, according to the Chengdu Commercial Times . The former boss of Land Economic Group, who captured the country's imagination for more than a decade for his wheeling and dealing, wrote the appeal himself instead of going through a lawyer, the report said. The newspaper quoted Liu Jinggang, a lawyer who once represented Mou, as saying the 58-year-old maverick businessman was expected to argue that he had not committed fraud because the letters of credit he obtained were 'normal fund-raising activities'. The appeal would also challenge his conviction on the grounds that two key suspects in the case were still missing and that his sentence was not proportional to his crimes. Last Tuesday, the Hubei Intermediate People's Court in Wuhan sentenced Mou along with his two nephews and a former accountant of the company, all on similar charges. While Mou got life, the other three received short suspended sentences. The prosecution dropped the case against Xia Zhongwei, Mou's 'personal secretary'. The court's ruling has apparently driven a wedge between the five. Only Mou is appealing against the sentences, while his nephews and the accountant tacitly accepted the guilty verdicts by not appealing. According to the report in the Chengdu Commercial Times , only Ms Xia, who reportedly had an intimate relationship with Mou, has visited the former boss in a detention centre since the verdict was announced. Mr Liu said he and Ms Xia had paid Mou two visits since and found him in fair condition. He said Mou was kept separate from other inmates in an air-conditioned room with a double bed because he was suffering from high blood pressure. Once sentenced to death during the Cultural Revolution, Mou earned his first bucket of gold by trading two Russian passenger planes with train-loads of Chinese consumer goods. Never shy to share his extravagant ideas, Mou boasted he wanted to build a northern Hong Kong on the China-Russia border, buy an aircraft carrier and lease Russian satellites. None of these materialised. But he was named by Fortune magazine in 1994 as China's fourth richest man. His troubles began in the mid-1990s when his company had difficulties raising funds from banks. He was formally arrested in January last year but the trial was delayed several times, partly due to the complexity of the case.