Beijing (CNN Business) – A Chinese billionaire who criticized President Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been jailed for 18 years on corruption charges, a court said Tuesday.
Ren Zhiqiang, a retired real-estate tycoon with close ties to senior Chinese officials, disappeared in March after he allegedly penned a scathing essay that month criticizing Xi’s response to the coronavirus epidemic. He was later charged with corruption-related offenses.
On Tuesday, a court in Beijing found Ren guilty on multiple charges, including embezzling some $16.3 million (110.6 million yuan) in public funds, accepting bribes, and abuse of power that caused losses totaling $17.2 million (116.7 million yuan) for the state-owned property company that he once headed.
Judges sentenced him to 18 years in prison and imposed a fine of $620,000 (4.2 million yuan). The court said he “voluntarily confessed all of his crimes” and “was willing to accept the court’s verdict after all of his illegal gains were recovered.”