Former Jianlibao president jailed for 15 years

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-13 06:53

FOSHAN, Guangdong: The former president and CEO of the Jianlibao Group was yesterday jailed for 15 years for embezzling public funds.

Zhang Hai, 34, was sentenced by the local court after being found guilty of misappropriating 206 million yuan ($26.4 million), during his time with the company.

The Jianlibao Group, based in Foshan of South China's Guangdong Province, is one of the nation's leading sports beverage manufacturers.

Zhang appeared "deeply depressed" after the sentence was announced at the local detention house. He intends to appeal.

"We will be filing an appeal against the ruling as soon as possible," Xu Yufa, one of Zhang's lawyers, told China Daily.

Prior to sentencing yesterday, Zhang, accused of "penal offences" rather than "economic crimes," appeared at the Foshan Intermediate People's Court twice, after spending nearly two years in police custody.

He was detained by local police on March 24, 2005. Some of his former assistants and subordinates were also detained later for further questioning.

Zhang, regarded as a mogul in the nation's capital market, took over as Jianlibao's president and CEO in 2002. He was removed from his position in August 2004.

At his first trial on November 2 last year, local prosecutors alleged Zhang used the company's money under his name to cover for "loans" from several other companies before he moved Jianlibao.

"We have key evidence explaining that all funds involved in the case flowed between Jianlibao's shareholders and the company, rather than into Zhang's personal bank accounts," Xu said.

Xu said he had submitted a requisition seeking Zhang's release on bail pending trial to the court before the second trial.

"Like the case of Zhu Weisha, we also hope that the court will put a just end to Zhang's case," Xu said.

Zhu Weisha, who took over as the company's president after Zhang. He was also detained in 2005, but has been released on bail pending trial.

The court has not yet approved or rejected the requisition, according to Xu, adding he will submit it again to the Guangdong Provincial High People's Court.

"The result really surprised us we are pinning our hopes on the requisition and we expect a just end to the case," Xu said.

(China Daily 02/13/2007 page4)

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