A prominent businessman in an east Chinese city was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for stealing over 800 million yuan (116.79 million U.S. dollars) from private investors.
Liu Kesheng, 48, was president of the Federation of Industry and Commerce in Tongcheng City, Anhui Province, before he was put under investigation for his shady practices.
The Intermediate People's Court of Anqing City convicted Liu of illegal fund-raising, loan fraud, contract fraud, embezzlement and bribery. All his personal assets will be confiscated.
Liu built his business empire in Tongcheng from scratch. He started by repairing vehicles, then moved on to cigarette and alcohol wholesale, before investing two million yuan into establishing a computer firm in 2000. The same year, Liu and others set up a financing guarantee firm. His reputation as a successful entrepreneur grew with his businesses.
According to the court, Liu began his dishonest dealings in 2006, and began stealing money in 2013. Using his influence, Liu promised investors high-return investment opportunities. Instead, he used their money to repay his own debt and keep his failing businesses afloat.
Liu had illegally raised four billion yuan from private investors. He was unable to repay 800 million yuan, the court was told.
Liu fled in June 2014, without informing many of his creditors. He was arrested in the northwest province of Gansu a month later.
He was formally charged in 2016.
Liu's sister was convicted as an accomplice and sentenced to 11 years in prison.