SHANGHAI - One of China's highest-profile fugitives - the former general manager of an insurance intermediary, who was dubbed the "runaway beauty boss" - was given the death penalty with a two-year reprieve on Wednesday for illegally raising more than one billion yuan (S$218 million).
Chen Yi, who controlled Shanghai Fanxin Insurance Agency, also had all of her personal wealth confiscated by the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court. Her death sentence will be commuted to life in prison if she is credited with good behaviour.
Fanxin's former senior consultant, Jiang Jie, was given a life sentence and had all of his property confiscated.
Chen and Jiang sold fake insurance products to more than 4,400 customers in Shanghai and the neighbouring province of Zhejiang, collecting over one billion yuan in premiums, according to the court, Agence France-Presse reported.
The two fled China in July 2013 with more than 830,000 euros (S$1.3 million) in cash and goods, after transferring nearly HK$50 million (S$77 million) from the company to Hong Kong, it said. The authorities brought the pair back from Fiji with that country's cooperation in August 2013.
The Shanghai court said it will continue to track down their illegal gains from investors and order them to pay compensation.
"The sentence is heavier than I expected," said Dang Jiangzhou, a shareholding partner of Shanghai's Ganus Law Firm, who represented more than 70 victims in the case.
In a related development, United States and Chinese officials will meet in August with anti-corruption Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation officials to discuss the possibility of repatriating Chinese officials hiding in the US, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.