The chairman of a trading company in northeast China has been sentenced to death after he was found guilty of raising 3 billion yuan (380 million U.S. dollars) from gullible investors for a bogus ant-breeding project between 2002 and 2005.
Wang Zhendong, board chairman of Yingkou Donghua Trading (Group) Co., Ltd. in Liaoning Province promised returns of 35 to 60 percent for the fictitious project under the name of Donghua Zoology Culturing Co., Ltd and Donghua Spirit Co., Ltd.
Fifteen managers of the company were given prison sentences of between five and ten years by the Yingkou Intermediate People's Court and received fines ranging from 100,000 yuan to 500,000 yuan (12,800 to 64,000 U.S. dollars).
More than 10,000 investors signed 100,000 contracts with the company before the case was investigated in June 2005.
Only 10 million yuan (1.28 million U.S. dollars) could be recovered before the case was brought to court last June.
One investor committed suicide after realizing he had been duped, according to the court. Wang's actions also caused huge economic losses for investors and many subsequently suffered from depression, it added.