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Young billionaire sued for illegal fund raising
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A wealthy young businesswoman has been sued in east China's Zhejiang Province for alleged illegal fund raising, according to a local court.

Wu Ying, a 26-year-old said to be worth 3.8 billion yuan (531.9 million U.S. dollars), was accused of illegally raising more than 720 million yuan, all from individual's bank deposits.

Since April 2006 when she established her company, Bense Group, she had been collecting money on the premise of promising to pay back the funds with an interest rate higher than that of bank levels. She did this in the Zhejiang cities of Yiwu, Dongyang and Ningbo, according to the People's Court of Dongyang, Wu's hometown.

In addition, Wu acquired about 127 million yuan in the same method before she founded her company.

The huge sums were allegedly used for Wu's personal consumption and in paying back the loans and operation costs of her company, said the court.

If found guilty, Wu faces up to 10 years in prison, according to Chinese law. Another seven suspects related to the case were accused of illegally helping Wu raise funds.

The court did not give a date when her case would be heard.

As the eldest of four daughters, Wu was born to a farmer's family in Dongyang. She started from scratch by opening a beauty salon in 1997, according to previous media reports.

She rose to fame in 2006 when she registered her Bense Group. It included 12 companies. Her business empire was later expanded to hotels, department stores, entertainment venues and Internet cafes, among others.

The Bense businesses also included automobile sales, construction materials and dry cleaning chains.

In January 2007, local police started their investigation of Wu after a series of reports were received claiming she was once engaged in illegal businesses.

(Xinhua News Agency February 23, 2008)

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