24 jailed in China for biggest ponzi scam

BEIJING (TIP): A Chinese court has jailed 24 swindlers involved in the country’s biggest financial scandal worth $1.5 billion.

It awarded life sentence to the ringleader, Jiang Hongwei, 32, who owned the finance company that cheated 2,30,000 people. Jiang’s 23 accomplices were sentenced to 14-years imprisonment.

The swindlers persuaded thousands of people, mostly elderly, to invest their lifelong savings in financial schemes that offered as high as 47% returns or take high-cost loans. The investors were conned into investing in return of the absurd offer in a country where banks offer 2-3% interest on deposits.

“Many elderly victims burst into tears at the trial,” the official Xinhua news reported. Some said they were attracted by the company’s ‘novel modes of financial services’. A large number of victims attended the hearing at a court in China’s Guangdong Province.

One of the victims described the massive presentation made by the company. “Their grand exhibition occupied six halls. After attending it, I felt assured and decided to invest $116,000,” she said. The woman said she and her husband lost all their savings. The court has seized assets of the swindlers, but it was unclear if the victims would get their money back.

Lack of sufficient investment options in China has been blamed for people getting attracted to such fraud. Investors get low returns on bank deposits, face extremely volatile stock markets and falling prices in the real estate market. The government has imposed restrictions on the number of houses a family can own. Many Chinese have invested in gold, but it is not a widely popular option. Many welloff Chinese try to sneak wealth out of the country through illegal means.

(PTI)

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