A mainland executive stole 85 million yuan (about HK$79.67 million) from the state company he managed and lent it to friends and family for stock market speculation. Wu Weiren, 53, former chairman and president of Cai Hong (Rainbow) Colour Television Tube Factory in Xianyang, near Xian, was sentenced on Thursday to 17 years in jail, according to the Hua Sheng newspaper. The Intermediate Court of Xian also ordered the seizure of 50,000 yuan worth of his assets. The factory, which manufactures television tubes, started production in 1982 and employs 20,000 workers. It turns out 10 million tubes a year, mostly for the domestic market and some for export. Wu took over the job in August 1998. In 2000, financial inspectors sent by the State Council in Beijing became suspicious. Wu was fired in June 2000 and arrested on April 29 last year. The court found that, in February 1997, Wu had arranged with the head of a company subsidiary in Macau to transfer 10.95 million yuan from the firm's import and export arm into the man's personal account in a Zhuhai bank. In March that year Wu approved a loan of 4.5 million yuan to the head of a company subsidiary in Suzhou and used it to buy stocks. In summer 1997, Wu had arranged with the head of a Shanghai company for his company to provide money to buy stocks on behalf of himself and the head of the Shanghai firm. In September of the same year, Wu's company provided 20 million yuan to enable his wife and her sister to play the stock market in Shanghai. In October and November 1997, in two transactions, Wu approved the transfer of 51.86 million yuan to the head of a Xian firm to trade stocks. In all, he stole 85 million yuan of the company's money. The court gave him a heavy sentence because, it said, he was a senior government official who had stolen an enormous amount of money for his own benefit. This was a serious offence. The court took into account the fact that he had returned the money, and there had been no major loss to the state. Company officials declined to comment on the case, saying that the matter was too sensitive.