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Wealth and vice: pitfalls for Chinese richest in 2007
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Illegal fund raising, contract fraud, bribery, tax evasion, loan fraud and mayhem posed the six major forms of crimes that toppled China's wealthy private business owners in 2007.


Before their fall, some even had renowned political and social status as deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC), and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Others were celebrated charitarians, reported China Youth Daily on Monday.


Wu Ying, a 26-year-old woman, who chaired the board of Bense Trade Co. Ltd in Zhejiang Province, was arrested for illegal fund raising and owing her employees back pay last February, the newspaper said.


She reportedly amassed a fortune of 3.8 billion yuan (about 506 million U.S. dollars), according to the Guangdong-based newspaper Shenzhen Daily. The newspaper ranked her the sixth-richest woman in the Chinese mainland in early 2007.


Wu had made a series of donations to her alma mater and other charities before the police investigated her and unveiled her crimes.


"Chinese entrepreneurs should be educated to raise their law awareness," said a commentary in the newspaper running along with fallen tycoons article.


"They also need to know they are not supposed to push the moral boundaries to the extent of violating the law. It is better if they follow the basic moral standards at the very beginning."


Other cases revealed being too greedy and self-willed also contributed to the downfall of those business people.


The former chairman of the Shenzhen-listed Jiaozuo Xin'an Science and Technology, Xie Guosheng, was jailed on fraud charges in July. He was previously No. 348 on Forbes' China 2005 rich list with an estimated 550 million yuan.


Shanghai tycoon Zhou Zhengyi was arrested for bribery and forging VAT receipts last January, just a few months after completing a three-year imprisonment for fraud and stock manipulation.


Zhou, No. 11 on the Forbes list of 100 richest mainlanders in 2002, was the majority shareholder of the Hong Kong-listed Shanghai Land Holdings and Shanghai Merchants Holdings.


The list goes on.


Li Yichao, former boss of Luoyang Zhongtai Group of Henan Province, was detained for suspected tax evasion in February. He was also expelled from the NPC. In 2006, he was ranked No. 342 by Forbes with an estimated 880 million yuan.


Reputed to be the richest person in Henan Province, native son Sun Shuhua, the former head of the Hualin Group, was put under investigation for suspected loan fraud in May. He ranked No. 138 on the Forbes list in 2004 and was also a delegate to the local committee of the NPC and vice-chairman of the CPPCC committee of Huiyang County.


Zhou Group Chairman Zhou Xiaodi was arrested for mayhem last December, a day after he was stripped of his Shanghai CPPCC committee membership. He ranked 31st on Hu Run's list of China charitarians with donations of 24.90 million yuan in 2006.


"An outstanding entrepreneur should have a healthy personal belief that accords with the society's mainstream moral obligations," said the commentary. It added they should be advised not to follow a "violent growth" mode, through which they would take all kinds of risks to make profits.


The government should also take new approaches to manage enterprises and work out ways to prevent crime and corruption, suggested the commentary.


During the past year, government officials were brought to the front line by the Communist Party's watchdog in its battle against corruption. By June, a total of 24,879 cases had been investigated, with concerned bribes totaling more than 6.156 billion yuan.


Government employees were involved in 5,523 bribe cases, accounting for 22.2 percent of those caught, according to China Daily.


Also last year, eight high officials were sacked and expelled from the Party, and would face criminal charges. These included Chen Liangyu, Shanghai's former Communist Party chief, and Pang Jiayu, vice chairman of the Shaanxi provincial committee of the CPPCC.


(Xinhua News Agency January 8, 2008)

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