The one-time head of a leading tech firm linked to jailed former presidential aide Ling Jihua was found guilty of insider trading on Friday.
The Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in Liaoning province sentenced Li You, former chief executive of Beijing-based technology conglomerate Founder Group, to 4½ years in jail for insider trading and for obstructing investigators, according to a statement on the court’s website.
Li was also fined 750 million yuan (HK$843 million), a very high penalty to be imposed on an individual.
Shanxi businesswoman Ding Shumiao, a close associate of disgraced former railway minister Liu Zhijun, was fined 2.5 billion yuan two years ago for bribery and illegal business operations. She was also jailed for 20 years.
Li’s case drew attention over its links to Ling, a former top presidential aide of ex-president Hu Jintao.
Ling was jailed for life in July for corruption, abuse of power and illegally obtaining state secrets.
Ling also sought benefits for the Founder Group, with his son asking for money from people in the group, including Wei Xin, Founder’s then chairman and Li’s colleague and supervisor.
The court did not mention Ling when it handed down its verdict on Li.
Li is also a former associate of Ma Jian, a former spy chief who is under investigation.
Li was introduced to Ma by his friend, Guo Wengui, controlling shareholder of Beijing Zenith Holdings and Beijing Pangu Investment.
Ties between Li and the Guo-Ma alliance soured in 2014 when one of Guo’s firms became the second-largest holder of Li’s securities holding company.
By the end of that year, Guo had started tipping off the authorities about Li’s insider trading, according to mainland media reports.
In retaliation, Li reportedly sent the authorities a letter in January last year about Ma and Guo’s alleged misconduct, according to mainland financial news outlet Caixin.
Ma was detained soon after while Guo left for the United States. Guo is reportedly still overseas.
Li was also soon arrested but Founder Group said Li, then the firm’s chief executive, as well as Wei Xin and then president Yu Li, had been taken away only to “assist the authorities with their investigations”. Wei and Yu’s legal status and whereabouts are unknown.
According to previous mainland media reports, Guo allegedly plotted the downfall of former Beijing vice-mayor Liu Zhihua after Liu refused to help him recover development rights to the Pangu Plaza project next to the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium in Beijing.
The reports said Ma or Guo also had a role in Liu’s downfall in a 2006 sex-tape scandal. But Guo denied involvement in a plot, saying Ma only helped to put him in touch with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection so Guo could report Liu’s wrongdoings. This was after all other departments he had approached rejected him, Guo said.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post in March last year, Guo rejected claims that he went into hiding overseas from graft-busters after Ma’s downfall. Rather, he said, he was in New York to treat a leg injury and would return soon