Loan Shark Linked to Debtor’s Death Gets 25 Years
A loan shark linked to a deadly altercation between his employees and a debtor’s son has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for gang-related activities.
Wu Xuezhan, who operated an investment company in Shandong province, was convicted of gang crimes, molestation of women, unlawful imprisonment and coercive business transactions, by a district court in the Shandong city of Liaocheng.
Fourteen others, including his employees and business partners, were sentenced to two to 20 years in prison for similar offenses, according to verdicts released Friday by Liaocheng’s Dongchangfu District People’s Court.
The ruling Communist Party has made the fight against organized gangs a priority. In January, the central authorities launched a three-year campaign aimed at weeding out organized gangs and “bullies” in business operations.
Wu and the other gang members were charged by prosecutors with activities relating to loan sharking, bullying other business owners, operating illicit gas stations, and building residential homes without licenses, court papers show.
Wu’s crimes came to light after one of the debt collectors he employed was killed by a debtor’s relative. In that 2016 incident, Wu claimed a businesswoman owed him 170,000 yuan ($26,700) interest on the 1.35 million yuan she borrowed in 2014 and 2015, with an annualized interest rate of 120%.
The woman, Su Yinxia, had already paid back 1.84 million yuan in cash and surrendered her 140-square-meter (1,507-square-foot) house, worth about 700,000 yuan, to Wu.
When a group of men came to Su’s automotive brake-pad factory and harassed her and her son for hours on end, the son, Yu Huan, fatally stabbed one of the men and injured another three. The police had been called before the stabbing, but officers reportedly left the scene a few minutes after arriving.
Yu, 22, was sentenced last year to life in prison for causing grievous bodily harm, triggering a nationwide outcry, as many saw his actions as justified defense of himself and his mother. His sentencing was commuted to five years in prison and later classified as “excessive force in self-defense."
Ringleader Wu was arrested along with 14 others in March 2017 and went on trial at the district court in Liaocheng in April.
The court did not say if they pleaded guilty or if they planned to appeal.
Contact reporter Li Rongde (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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