Chinese tycoon sentenced to life in prison for smuggling, bribery
updated 1:17 AM EDT, Fri May 18, 2012
Chinese businessman Lai Changxing is escorted by security guards into a Vancouver federal courthouse on July 12, 2001.
- Lai Changxing became one of China's businessmen in the 1990s
- He fled to Canada after the Chinese authorities accused him of smuggling
- After more than a decade, he lost his fight to avoid extradition last year
- A Chinese court sentences him to life imprisonment
(CNN) -- A Chinese court on Friday sentenced Lai Changxing, a tycoon who spent more than a decade as a fugitive in Canada, to life in prison for smuggling and bribery, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
Lai, 53, was sentenced by a court in the southeastern port city of Xiamen in Fujian Province, where the Chinese authorities say he ran a multi-billion dollar smuggling operation in the late 1990s.
Born into a peasant family, Lai received little in the way of education. He nonetheless rose to become one of China's richest and most flamboyant businessmen.
His company's interests included products as varied as cigarettes, cars, luxury goods and oil.
But in a crackdown on corruption, the Chinese government said Lai's business was trading the goods illegally. It accused him of bribing dozens of government officials and telling his staff to do the same.
Lai evaded the authorities and fled to Canada in 1999. He was subsequently detained and spent years fighting extradition back to China. He lost that battle last year and was returned to China in July.
His lawyers had said they feared he may face the death penalty in China like others convicted of profiting from the smuggling operation.
But the extradition deal with Canada appeared to have prevented that outcome. Under Canadian law, nobody can be deported if they will face the death penalty.
Part of complete coverage on
Check out CNN's latest news, commentary, photos, and videos on our China special section.
updated 10:25 PM EDT, Wed May 15, 2013
This month, "On China" host Kristie Lu Stout speaks to guests about China's contemporary art scene.
updated 9:07 PM EDT, Wed May 15, 2013
Who is the world's third biggest smartphone maker? BlackBerry? Guess again. HTC? Nope. It's China's Huawei.
updated 8:24 AM EDT, Wed May 8, 2013
CNNGo heads to the capital of China's Sichuan province where numbing peppers rule.
updated 8:16 PM EDT, Wed May 8, 2013
The poisoning of Zhu Ling, a college sophomore in Beijing almost two decades ago, has ignited an emotional debate in China.
updated 6:53 PM EDT, Tue May 7, 2013
80-year-old Chinese war veteran Duan Keke fought for North Korea in the Korean War. He believes China will prevent war with North Korea.
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Fri May 3, 2013
"Iron Man 3" has set a new box office record in China, taking 130 million yuan ($21 million) on its opening day.
updated 10:59 PM EDT, Tue April 30, 2013
The Communist party has become an exclusive club for China's elite, and some say its youngest members are motivated by nothing more than naked careerism.
updated 7:14 AM EDT, Fri April 26, 2013
The H7N9 strain responsible for the bird flu outbreak in China is unlike any that has previously been seen in this type of virus.
Share with us your photos and videos of life in China-- the everyday China. The best content could be featured online or on air.