ĦĦĦĦSHANGHAI, Jan 24 (AP) -- A Chinese tycoon convicted of running a prostitution and gambling syndicate and bribing local officials has been sentenced to death in southeast China's Fujian province, a state-run newspaper reported Monday.
ĦĦĦĦChen Kai, a former small businessman who made his fortune in entertainment and property dealings, was found to have paid a total of nearly US$1 million
(763,000) to 50 officials to persuade authorities to ignore his casinos and brothels, the China Daily reported.
ĦĦĦĦA court in Fuzhou, Fujian's provincial capital, sentenced Chen over the weekend, the report said.
ĦĦĦĦIt said Chen was found to be the head of a 21-member gang and that he was the richest man in Fuzhou at the time of his arrest in 2003.
ĦĦĦĦThe harsh sentence comes amid a nationwide crackdown on unauthorized gambling.
ĦĦĦĦThe report did not say what punishments were ordered for the dozens of other officials implicated in the case. Among those sentenced was the former deputy Communist Party chief of Fuzhou, Song Licheng, it said.
ĦĦĦĦLike many prominent businessmen, Chen had acquired status as a local leader before his arrest. The newspaper said he formerly was a member of a prominent government advisory body in Fuzhou.
ĦĦĦĦChen was also convicted of tax evasion and fraud, the report said.