Zeng Chengjie, a businessman in China’s Hunan province, has been described as “China’s Madoff.” The real estate developer allegedly defrauded more than 57,000 investors out of approximately RMB2.8 billion (US $460 million), of which RMB1.7 billion had been returned.
China has a history of dealing harshly with white collar criminals, and Zeng’s case is a prime example. The self-made magnate, once lauded for his success, was executed last week for fraud and illegal fundraising.
What’s truly heartbreaking about the case is that Zeng apparently didn’t see his family before his death. On Friday Zeng’s 23-year-old daughter Zeng Shan wrote a post revealing the execution on Weibo. Here’s a rough translation of the post:
The bad news came this morning, my father has been executed by lethal injection. We did not see him one last time! Didn’t hear his last testament! Even now the Government has not notified us! I did not expect them to act so fast! My father has been killed unjustly! We will reverse the verdict for him! Thank you for your continued attention, thank you! ——- Zeng Shan Tears of Blood
The post has made a big impact on the Chinese internet. At the time of writing it has been forwarded over 73,000 times on Weibo and has almost 50,000 comments.
Zeng Shan’s message clearly touched a lot of people concerned about China’s justice system. For one thing, she claims that her father is not guilty of the crime, and that he was only implicated after left after local Party members withdrew their their investments from her father’s projects in 2009, creating a panic amongst normal investors.
Whether he was guilty or not, another big issue, as Josh Chin at the WSJ’s China Real Time points out, is that Zhen appears to have not been allowed to see his family before his death. Exactly why the family wasn’t contacted is unclear — the court initially claimed it was not legally obliged to, then a Chinese news agency reported that the court didn’t have contact information for the family. Neither answer has satisfied the family and their online supporters.
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