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Friday, 18 May 2012

China's most-wanted man, a flamboyant, billionaire gangster who was angrily pursued by China's most senior leaders for over a decade, was jailed for life today.

Chinese fugitive Lai Changxing: China's most-wanted man jailed for life

Chinese fugitive Lai Changxing Photo: Lai Changxing, a 53-year-old farmer turned master smuggler, was sentenced by a court in Xiamen, the southern Chinese city he effectively ruled over in the boom years of the mid-1990s, described by some as a Robin Hood figure, and by others as an enemy of the state.

"If Lai was executed three times over, it would not be too much," said Zhu Rongji, China's former premier, in October 2000.

Mr Lai was found guilty of smuggling container ships full of luxury cars, cigarettes and petrol worth a total of nearly £3 billion into Xiamen, while bribing 64 of the city's leaders with at least £3.9 million to look the other way, according to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency.

At one point, he ran a private seven-floor bordello, named the Red Mansion, to which he would invite friendly government officials. At the time the People's Daily newspaper said the club, was where dozens of high-ranking officials "resigned themselves to degeneracy and became tools of Lai's group".

His most prized possession was a bullet-proof Mercedes once owned by Jiang Zemin, China's then president. He bought and played for Xiamen's local football team, and he tried to build an 88-floor tower that would have been the country's tallest building.

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