Former vice-chair of China’s banking regulator handed life sentence

BEIJING: A former vice-chairman of China’s banking regulator has been sentenced to life imprisonment, state media reported on Friday (Dec 29), the latest target in a crackdown on corruption in the second-largest economy’s finance sector.

Beijing launched a sprawling campaign to counter graft in 2012, following the ascension of leader Xi Jinping to the top of the governing Communist Party.

Since then, some 4.8 million party officials have been investigated, according to the latest official figures from June 2022.

Such investigations generally result in convictions and are suspected of serving as a tool for sidelining political figures seen as opposing Xi.

Cai Esheng was found guilty of accepting 407 million yuan (US$57.5 million) in bribes while in office, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a decision by a court in Zhenjiang.

He was also said to have taken an additional 110 million yuan in bribes after retiring.

CCTV reported he was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, which will be commuted to life in prison.

Born in 1951, Cai spent most of his career in finance and served for eight years as a vice-chairman of the country’s banking regulator.

Now retired, he came under scrutiny in 2021 with the launch of an investigation into “serious violations of discipline and the law” – wording that typically designates acts of corruption or embezzlement.

The former executive also served as a senior Communist Party representative to the banking regulator.

The conviction comes during a particularly active period for the crackdown on China’s finance sector.

On Thursday, a former head of China’s central bank was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for corruption.

A legislative gathering on Friday saw the adoption of an amendment that provides tougher penalties for corruption, according to state news agency Xinhua.

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