China jails ex-Bank Chief for life for fraud

China has handed a life sentence to Xu Guojun, a former Bank of China manager who was repatriated from the United States two years ago. The case involves one of China’s largest bank frauds, where Xu, a former local branch head, was convicted of embezzlement and misappropriation of over 2.3 billion yuan ($322 million) in funds more than 20 years ago. Alongside two other former bank employees, Xu exploited loopholes at the Bank of China to engage in fraudulent loans.

China’s highest court stated on Wednesday that Xu accepted the sentence, which includes charges of embezzlement and misappropriation, and he has chosen not to appeal. His accomplices had previously received sentences of 12 and 13 years in 2006 and 2021, after being repatriated to China. The total amount involved in the case was initially reported to be $485 million.

This sentencing aligns with China’s ongoing efforts to combat corruption within its finance industry, with more than 100 officials and executives being targeted in the past year alone. President Xi Jinping has emphasised the need to tighten control over the financial sector, aiming for more centralised leadership and cracking down on perceived “hedonistic” lifestyles among bankers. The broader campaign reflects China’s commitment to financial stability while revitalising the economy without introducing unintended risks.

The Bank of China case, dating back two decades, had drawn attention due to the substantial amount of money involved and was widely regarded in China as a prominent example of corruption within the state banking system. As of 2021, the government reported that over 2 billion yuan of the stolen money had been recovered.

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