China’s biggest Ponzi scheme mastermind sentenced to life in prison

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The mastermind of China’s biggest Ponzi scheme, Ding Ning, was sentenced to life in jail by a Beijing court on Tuesday, Xinhua News Agency reported. Ding, 35, head of peer-to-peer online financing firm Ezubao and chairman of Yucheng Group, was convicted of fraudulent fundraising, smuggling precious metal, and owning guns illegally, according to a judgement handed down by the Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court. He was also fined 100 million yuan ($15 million) and his personal assets of 500,000 yuan confiscated. Yucheng controls the Ezubao platform, which authorities allege had defrauded 900,000 people out of more than $7.6 billion. One other Yucheng executive was also jailed for life, while 24 were given jail terms of between three to 15 years.

Xinhua reported that Ezubao had been under scrutiny since December 2015. Twenty-one people involved in the scheme had been arrested in February 2016, including Ding Ning.  The president of the parent company, Zhang Min, had told investigators that the company operated as a Ponzi scheme, with money from new investors used to pay moneys due to earlier investors.