Businesswoman Wu Ying gets 2-year reprieve on death penalty
The China Youth Daily is a commercial daily run by the Communist Youth League. The front page today features a story on Wu Ying, the 31-year-old Zhejiang-based entrepreneur who was sentenced to death in 2009 for illegal fundraising, and cheating investors out of 380 million yuan ($60 million).
The initial sentence sparked a public outcry in China: the punishment did not seem to fit the crime. Wu appealed her case to China’s Supreme Court in April this year, and had it sent back to Zhejiang courts for re-sentencing. Today the national headline reads, “A reprieve for Wu Ying in fundraising-fraud retrial.” The article reports that the Zhejiang Higher People’s Court has made a final judgment on Wu’s case: She will be sentenced to death with a 2 year reprieve. All of her personal property will be confiscated, and she will be stripped of all political rights for life.
The 2-year reprieve probably means that her death sentence will ultimately be commuted to a life-sentence, experts say. The China Youth Daily reports that Wu’s illegal fundraising defrauded investors by making unrealistic promises of high-interest returns. In addition to causing major losses for the victims, this behavior severely disrupted the order of financial management in China. The facts are clear, and evidence reliable and sufficient. The 2-year reprieve was issued because Wu confessed to her crimes and voluntarily disclosed that she offered bribes to several government workers.
The case has caused many people to question China’s current financing system, which makes it difficult for small entrepreneurs to get loans from banks. A recent article in Xinhua points out that it’s normal for smaller companies in Zhejiang and other provinces across China to seek financing from private lenders because they are unable to go through banks. The underground lending market is thriving. Moreover, because it’s illegal, there’s no oversight. At a press conference in March, Premier Wen Jiabao admitted that Wu’s case demonstrates that “we need to guide and permit private capital to enter into the financial arena, standardize it and bring it into the open, encourage its development and strengthen supervision over it.”
Since Wu’s initial sentencing, China has also reformed many of its laws surrounding the death penalty. Last year, China got rid of the death penalty for 13 types of economic and non-violent crimes.
Links and Sources:
China Youth Daily: 吴英集资诈骗案重审改判死缓
Xinhua: Death-sentenced business woman receives lighter penalty following heated debates
BBC: Convicted Chinese businesswoman Wu Ying given reprieve