Chinese Officials Gamble, and Their Luck Runs Out

From New York Times:

As mayor of a small city in the Chinese hinterland, Li Weimin started out innocently enough, playing the slots in nearby Macao, games with names like Five Dragons, Chinese Kitchen and Super Happy Fortune Cat.

But he soon began to try his hand at other games, and for higher stakes, financing his increasingly frequent trips to glitzy casinos by dipping into the municipal budget and several real estate firms under his control.

“It was easy for me to borrow or divert money from those places,” the 43- year-old Mr. Li said at his trial, according to a state-run newspaper, China Daily. Eventually he lost $12 million and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Mr. Li is one of an increasing number of Communist Party bosses and government officials who, government prosecutors say, pillaged state funds, company accounts and municipal treasuries to try their luck in Macao, which sits just across the border from Guandong Province.

January 15, 2009 7:38 AM
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Categories: Economy, Politics