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Chinese couple jailed in US$50m bank fraud
Updated: 2004-12-25 16:17

A Chinese court has sentenced a couple to long prison terms for embezzling more than 50 million dollars from a bank which was frittered away in gambling sessions in Macau, state media said.

Chen Manxiong, 44, and his wife Chen Qiuyuan, 42, were sentenced to life imprisonment and 14 years in jail respectively by the Zhongshan Intermediate People's Court in the southern province of Guangdong, the Xinhua news agency said.

The case, involving 420 million yuan (US$51 million), is the second biggest bank fraud case since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Xinhua said.

The couple, who ran a company in Zhongshan city, racked up huge gambling debts in Macau.

Through their connections with two clerks at the Zhongshan branch of the Bank of China, they took 420 million yuan in bank deposits from 1993 to 1995 without going through any loan applications or processing, Xinhua said.

The couple used the money to gamble and pay some debts. In 1995 they fled to Thailand where they changed their names and started several businesses, the report said.

Following a request from China, Thai authorities arrested the couple in 2000 after they had lived in Thailand for five years and sentenced them to prison on charges of illegally entering the country and using fake identification.

Thailand repatriated the couple in 2002 and they were immediately arrested.

The two bank clerks were earlier sentenced to 20 years and life imprisonment in 1996.

Authorities have not been able to recover 310 million yuan of the stolen money.

China's biggest bank embezzlement case occurred in 2001. It also happened in Guangdong province and involved the Bank of China, Xinhua said.

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