02/09/2015, 00.00
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China executes one of the nations’ richest men, close to Zhou Yongkang, for corruption

Liu Han, 46, was on the list of the 500 wealthiest businessmen in China. During the investigation that led to his death sentence, connections emerged with Zhou Yongkang, former "national security Tsar" who is awaiting trial. Liu’s brother and three "collaborators" also executed. The campaign "against the Tigers and the flies" launched by Xi Jinping.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Chinese central government has executed Liu Han, a former industry boss tied to the mining sector and one of the richest men in the country. Liu was linked to former "national security Tsar" Zhou Yongkang, disgraced after the seizure of power by President Xi Jinping. In May 2014 a court found him guilty of 13 criminal charges - including murder, organising casinos, running a mafia-style gang and illegally selling firearms - and sentenced him to death. In August, the appeal filed by his lawyers was rejected.

This morning, his younger brother Liu Wei and three "collaborators", Xianbing Tang, Zhang Donghua and Tian Xianwei were executed with him. The executions were confirmed by the Intermediate People's Court of the city of Xianning, Hubei province. Before carrying out the sentences, the five men were able to meet family members in prison.

Liu Han - 46 years and originally from the province of Sichuan - was the founder and owner of the Hanlong Group, a conglomerate founded in 1997 and with interests ranging from energy to real-estate. The court fined the company 300 million yuan (about 40 million euro) for several crimes, including the manipulation of stock and the use of private information to obtain bank loans. During the trial, the prosecution described the group as "a criminal organization, with an internal hierarchy similar to that of the Mafia, with profits obtained from criminal activities".

With $ 650 million, Liu was among the 500 richest men in China. The meeting between Zhou Yongkang and the industry boss took place in 2003 through the eldest son of former Politburo member, now expelled from the Party and awaiting trial for corruption. Zhou Bin became Liu's protégée at the direct request of the powerful father. During the investigation, details emerged about the relationship between industry boss and Party leader: the sale of real estate for inflated or ridiculous prices, "gifts" for hundreds of thousands of yuan, industrial fillers (and management salaries ) conferred without any reasons.

The trial and death sentence of Liu is one of the most spectacular results in the campaign "against the Tigers and the flies" of corruption in China, launched by President Xi Jinping soon after his coming to power in November 2012. The campaign aims to punish the communist officials at all levels who are guilty of pocketing public money or living an exaggerated lifestyle. The great political analyst and dissident Bao Tong, however, questions the true nature of this campaign, which in his opinion is a smokescreen for a settling of powers within the Party.


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