Chinese billionaire Sun Dawu faces decades in jail, legal team say
- Handling of case will send a message about how leadership sees private businesspeople, lawyers say
- Charges against Sun include illegal mining and provoking trouble
One of China’s most outspoken businessmen could face 25 years in prison if convicted on a range of charges against him, his legal team said on Monday.
Rural entrepreneur Sun Dawu is accused of provoking trouble and disturbing public order, illegal mining, encroachment on state farmland, obstructing public service and illegal fundraising, among other charges, prosecutors in Gaobeidian in Hebei province said in a document on Wednesday.
A source in the legal team, who requested anonymity because they were warned not to speak to the media, said prosecutors asked for Sun’s eldest son Sun Meng to be jailed for 16 years and Sun’s brother Sun Zhihua to be jailed for 11 years.
The source said they expected Sun could be sentenced to 20-25 years.
“The defendants were surprised about the heavy sentencing suggestions and they have said that these [sentences] are unacceptable,” the source said. “We will do our best to defend them.”
The source said the court was expected to set a trial date next week.
The letter, which was published online Sunday, said many of the charges against Sun were common problems faced by private businesspeople in China, who had to compete on uneven playing field against state-owned businesses.
“If this case is not properly resolved, it would not be just a setback of Sun Dawu,” it said.
“It would also be setback for Hebei and Baoding, and would certainly undermine the confidence of hard-working private businesspeople in the province.”
“This year marks the centenary celebrations of the Communist Party ... How this case is handled could easily be seen as a yardstick of how the central leadership sees private entrepreneurs,” it said.
“[A poor outcome] would ... be detrimental to the centenary celebrations.”
Sun, 66, founded the Dawu Group in 1989 and has since built it into a huge empire spanning agriculture, tourism and health care. However, he was also vocal in criticising the authorities about its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and African swine fever.