Skip to main content

Chinese mining tycoon Liu Han sentenced to death

By Tim Hume, CNN
updated 1:27 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
Police stand guard outside the Xianning Intermediate People's Court, where mining tycoon Liu Han stands trial for charges including murder.
Police stand guard outside the Xianning Intermediate People's Court, where mining tycoon Liu Han stands trial for charges including murder.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Liu Han found guilty of "organising and leading mafia-style crime and murder"
  • Liu ran the largest private enterprise in China's Sichuan Province
  • State media reports he came to attention of central authorities after alleged shooting in 2009
  • Nine murders are linked to his alleged syndicate, which includes his brother, Liu Wei

(CNN) -- Former mining tycoon Liu Han and his brother have been sentenced to death, China's state media Xinhua reports. Both men have been found guilty of "mafia-style crime" and murder by a provincial court in Hubei.

The two are among 36 people found guilty of similar crimes, including organized crime and homicide and given sentences ranging from the death penalty to long prison terms and fines.

Liu Han is former board chairman of the Sichuan Hanlong Group, the largest private enterprise in the southwest Chinese province of Sichuan, with interests including mining, real estate, electricity, energy and finance. The 48-year-old also holds major stake in a number of Australian companies. Official Chinese news sources estimate his wealth, which was seized when he was arrested, as being in the "tens of billions of yuan," or billions of U.S. dollars.

His case is one of the most high-profile against a private businessman since Chinese president Xi Jinping launched a crackdown on corruption when he came into power last year.

State media have also reported that Liu's rise coincided with Zhou Yongkang's term as head of Communist Party in Sichuan province. Zhou, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, is believed to be the ultimate target of Xi's anti-corruption drive. Reuters have also reported that sources say Liu was once a business associate of Zhou Bin, Zhou Yongkang's eldest son.

Liu was detained last year along with his younger brother Liu Wei on suspicion of criminal activities. The trial against the brothers and 34 of their associates began in Xianning Intermediate People's Court in Hubei Province on March 31, when a photograph of Liu Han in the court's dock, flanked by policemen, was published on social media networks by state news agencies.

Gang of thugs

According to the report, the Liu brothers started out running gambling centers in their base in Guanghan, China's southern Sichuan Province, in the early 1990s, gathering around them "a gang of local thugs and vagrants."

The report said the brothers' empire grew, before finally attracting the attention of central authorities with an alleged public shooting at a Guanghan teahouse one afternoon in January, 2009, supposedly directed at an underworld rival.

According to the report, the two suspects detained over the attack, which killed three and injured two, allegedly identified Liu Wei as having ordered the attack.

READ: Xi targets military with anti-corruption drive

Liu Han also developed a reputation as a philanthropist, building a rural school campus following a 2008 earthquake that devastated Sichuan Province. His brother also had a reputation for charity, and had been a torch-bearer in the build-up to the Beijing Olympics, also in 2008, according to Xinhua.

Anti-corruption purge

Large numbers of senior Communist Party officials are reportedly attending the trial, which is being closely watched for any signs of links to a potential investigation into former senior official Zhou Yongkang. The 71-year old was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's top decision-making body, before he retired in 2012, and previously served as the czar of China's domestic security apparatus, and as the party chief in Sichuan from 1999 to 2002.

Speculation has swirled in recent times that Zhou is set to become the next high-profile target of President Xi Jinping's heralded anti-corruption purge.

Chinese state media has hinted that Liu Han's alleged gang operated with political connections to central government officials.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is Xi Jinping a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
updated 2:31 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
updated 12:14 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
Hong Kong's narrow streets were once a dazzling gallery of neon, where banks and even bordellos plied their trade under sizzling tubular signs.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Three more officials have been given the chop as part of China's anti-corruption drive, including former aides to the retired security chief.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
As thousands of Hong Kongers prepare for an annual protest, voices in China's press warn pro-democracy activism is a bad idea.
updated 12:37 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Hong Kongers are demanding the right to directly elect their next leader, setting up a face-off with Beijing.
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
updated 4:36 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
updated 11:34 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
updated 2:38 AM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
updated 4:12 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Hong Kongers have reacted angrily to a Chinese government white paper affirming Beijing's control over the territory.
The emphasis on national glory -- rather than purely personal achievement -- is key.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Rapid development hasn't just boosted the economy -- it has opened up vast swathes of the country, says a man who has spent much of his life exploring it.
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people "ill" in China.
ADVERTISEMENT