14:09 GMT29 October 2020
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    BEIJING (Sputnik) - Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday sentenced Ren Zhiqiang, the former chairman of the state-owned Huayuan Real Estate Group and a vocal critic of Chinese President Xi Jinping, to 18 years in prison on corruption charges.

    "The court ruled that the actions of the accused Ren Zhiqiang, including bribery, misappropriation and embezzlement of funds, misuse of public funds, abuse of powers of a civil servant, shall be punished in accordance with the law," the court said in a statement, published on its official website.

    The court ruled that from 2003 to 2017 Ren used his official position as the real estate group's head to embezzle more than 49.74 million yuan ($7.3 million) from public funds, as well as received bribes totalling over 1.25 million yuan. The tycoon is also accused of embezzling public funds in the amount of 61.20 million yuan and abusing his official powers, causing the company to suffer losses of 116.7 million yuan.

    Given that Ren voluntarily confessed to his crimes and accepted the ruling, the court took note of the prosecutors' recommendations and sentenced him to 18 years in prison and a fine of 4.2 million yuan.

    The former chairman was arrested in March after criticising the country's authorities for their actions in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. In late July, he was expelled from the ruling Communist Party.

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