A former tycoon in China who has built up a £ 1 billion empire through sheer violence and terror has been sentenced to death with deferment.
Former paramilitary Chen Hongzhi amassed astonishing fortune in just over a decade by expanding his coal mining business by robbing, bribing and even killing, according to a Chinese court.
To satisfy his greed, the 44-year-old from Shanxi Province formed and led a criminal syndicate with more than 70 triad gangsters to kidnap and defeat anyone who stood in his way.
Chinese triad leader Chen Hongzhi (photo) was sentenced to death on Wednesday with a two-year extension by the Intermediary People's Court of Changzhi in Shanxi Province
The 44-year-old built a large coal-mining group over a 10-year period by robbing, bribing, and even killing, according to a Chinese court. He led a 70-person criminal syndicate
Local officials were forced to take orders from the merciless man – or threatened to be attacked – and he even ordered the course of a river to change and build a dam near his house to bring him better feng shui, the state broadcaster CCTV.
When he was caught last year during a raid on the city, he turned out to have countless bundles of money and more than 340 properties throughout the country.
Mr. Chen's most notorious acts include publicly striking the face of a Communist Party official for not completing a & # 39; task & # 39; he had given him, CCTV said.
It was also said that he had beaten the family cemetery of another party official after this official had refused to meet any of his requirements.
The man was equally ruthless towards his staff and even family members. He reportedly demanded that all his employees, including his uncle, be available 24/7 and scolded at will.
An entrepreneur, who had treated Mr. Chen, told China News Weekly that Mr. Chen had once beaten his wife so badly that she had to be hospitalized.
The screenshot from the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV shows that Chen was arrested in Beijing in July. The Chinese authority received a tip from a local officer he had terrorized
According to China News Weekly, Mr. Chen was born in a poor family in Liulin County in Shanxi. His father was a blacksmith.
He never liked studying when he was little and joined the paramilitary forces of the country after he had grown up.
He withdrew from the armed forces in 1998 and made his first fortune after setting up a company to sell building materials at the age of 24.
A year later, he used the coal-mining industry that Shanxi is known for, and then focused on violence for business interests.
Through bribery and coercion, Mr. Chen planted his former classmates, family members, and friends in critical positions in all government functions, enabling him to occupy other people's coal mines and collect the natural resource as he wanted.
His company, Lingzhi Group, became so powerful that it managed four coal mines, four refineries, a shopping mall, a five-star hotel and even a local high school.
Mr. Chen was born in Shanxi County Liulin (photo) to a poor family
During about 10 years of underground operation, his criminal organization killed one person, injured eight people, and illegally detained more than 30 people, the court said.
Chen was arrested in July last year after the Chinese authority received a tip from a local officer whom he had terrorized.
And on Wednesday, the ex-magnate received the death penalty with a two-year extension by the Intermediate People's Court of Changzhi in Shanxi Province.
The court found him guilty of more than 10 crimes, including the organization and management of underground organizations, illegal mining, compelling business transactions, intentional mistreatment, kidnapping, theft, fraud, tampering with evidence, etc.
Chen and more than 70 of his gangster subordinates were sentenced in court yesterday
His second commander, Gao Haiping, was sentenced to life imprisonment and 72 other members in his gang were imprisoned for 14 months to 20 years.
Death sentence with postponement is a kind of death sentence under Chinese criminal law. The convicted person receives a two-year delay for execution. At the end of the two-year period, the sentence is reduced to life imprisonment if the person does not commit any further crimes within this period.
The court has yet to announce whether Mr. Chen will appeal against the decision.
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