Wu Ying

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Wu Ying (吴英)

Wu Ying (吴英), a Chinese businesswoman, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for fundraising fraud by the Zhejiang Higher People's Court on May 12, 2012.

Born on May 20, 1981, to a farmer's family in Dongyang, Zhejiang Province, Wu was first a technical school drop-out. She started her business from a small beauty salon which eventually became the entertainment conglomerate, Bense Group Co. She became the 6th richest women in China in 2006, according to the Hurun Fortune List.

Wu experienced hardship in adolescence when her father was owed millions of yuan by a developer. She earned her first fortune by selling sheep placenta essence. Several years later, she used profits from a car leasing business and South Korean clothes boutiques to acquire the Sheraton Entertainment Complex in Zhejiang. She established lots of connections when doing business with her partners and her network provided her access to much insider information.

Unsatisfied with mere entrepreneur status, Wu ventured into the real estate and futures markets. Her shrewdness and audacity soon made her a rich woman in her hometown Dongyang. However, the village woman's epic rise crashed on February 10, 2007, when police cracked down all her chain stores and charged her with illegal fund-raising.

In December 2009, Wu was sentenced to death by the Jinhua Intermediate People's Court for cheating investors out of 380 million yuan (US$60.2 million).

Wu raised 770 million yuan by promising investors high returns between May 2005 and February 2007, the intermediate court found. She still had 380 million yuan as well as a large amount of unpaid debt with creditors when the case was uncovered.

The intermediate court said Wu amassed the fortune for illegal possession by fabricating facts, deliberately hiding the truth, and promising high returns as an incentive.

The Zhejiang Higher People's Court (HPC) upheld the death sentence on Jan. 18, but the Supreme People's Court overrode the judgment and sent the case back to the Zhejiang HPC for re-sentencing on April 20.

On May 21, 2012, the HPC in Zhejiang Province handed Wu Ying a death penalty with a two-year reprieve for fundraising fraud after retrial. The court also ordered that all Wu's personal property be confiscated, and stripped her of political rights for life in final judgment.

On July 11, 2014, Wu had her death sentence for illegal fund-raising commuted to life imprisonment at a trial in east China's Zhejiang Province.