Canadian Billionaire Businessman gets 13 Years Prison Sentence in China

In a case involving the highest levels of Chinese political power, a Shanghai court on Friday sentenced Canadian billionaire Xiao Jianhua, who was born in China, to 13 years in prison and fined 6.5 million yuan ($950,000). The court also fined his conglomerate Tomorrow Holdings 55.03 billion yuan ($8.1 billion)

According to a statement by the Shanghai First Intermediate Court, Xiao and Tomorrow Holdings were accused of illegally absorbing public deposits, breaching trust in the use of entrusted property, illegally using funds and the crime of bribery. 

The statement also revealed that Xiao and Tomorrow Holdings would use “the criminal and illegal proceeds for the acquisition of financial institutions and overseas investments.”

Explaining to what degree of damage Mr. Xiao and Tomorrow Holdings’ criminal activities might have caused to the financial sector of the country, the court said;

“The criminal acts of Tomorrow Holdings and Xiao Jianhua seriously damaged the financial management order, seriously endangered the country’s financial security, seriously infringed on the integrity of the state staff, and should be severely punished according to law.”

It, however, further stated that the punishment was lessened because Xiao and Tomorrow Holdings have “turned themselves in, confessed their crimes and helped with the recovery of assets.”

The tycoon was among China’s richest men and is in charge of the Tomorrow Group, a sizable holding company with interests in financial institutions, insurance companies, and real estate investors. 

Hurun, a company that examines China’s wealthiest people, reported that Xiao had an estimated net worth of $6 billion. He was rated the 32nd richest man in 2016 by the company.

According to the court, Xiao and Tomorrow provided government officials shares, real estate, cash, and other assets worth more than $100 million between 2001 and 2021 to get around financial oversight and seek out improper benefits.

Xiao is reportedly highly connected to the Communist Party’s ruling elite, including President Xi Jinping’s family.

The Canadian embassy claimed in July that its diplomats had been refused entry to the trial.

“Canada made several requests to attend the trial proceedings of Canadian citizen, Mr. Xiao Jianhua. Our attendance was denied by Chinese authorities,” the embassy said.

In response to a question on Friday on Xiao’s ability to utilize Canadian consular services as a citizen of Canada, China’s foreign ministry stated that because China does not recognize dual citizenship, Xiao is not eligible to use such privileges.

Xiao Jianhua’s puzzling disappearance

In 2017, Xiao was detained by some security personnel and taken to mainland China from the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong where he was understood to have been residing at the time.

Xiao has not been seen in public since then. After the incident, his family reported him missing to Hong Kong authorities, but they later withdrew the report, claiming they had “regained contact” with him.

Although they refused to disclose the tape, Hong Kong police claimed that CCTV footage from the location revealed Xiao did not leave the hotel under coercion.

The disappearance of Xiao shocked Hong Kong’s affluent business sector, which took it as a sign that the city was no longer immune to the reach of the mainland’s security forces.

The 50-year-old Businessman, however, later revealed that he was undergoing medical care abroad in a statement that appeared on the main page of a widely read daily. Additionally, he complimented China’s “rule of law” and asserted that he had not been abducted and taken to the Chinese mainland.