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China’s former spy chief sentenced to life for corruption

Ma Jian, one of China’s former spy chiefs, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Chinese court on Thursday after being found guilty for accepting USD 15.8 million in bribes and crimes relating to insider trading and forced share transfers.

Ma, former deputy head of China’s Ministry of State Security, was tried at the Dalian Intermediate Court in northeast China after four years in detention.He was also fined 50.5 million yuan, official media reported.Ma pleaded guilty in the court and decided not to appeal.The court ordered the confiscation of all of Ma’s personal property and demanded the return of his ill-gotten gains.Ma was also punished for forced transactions and insider trading, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

He was found to have taken advantage of his various positions, including vice minister of state security, to help fugitive Guo Wengui and Beijing Zenith Holdings, a company which was actually controlled byGuo, and accepted money and valuables worth more than 109 million yuan (USD 15.8 million) personally or through his relatives, the agency said.During 2008 to 2014, Ma conspired with Guo and threatened, forced others to transfer shares, give up pre-emption rights or withdraw from specific business activities, making Beijing Zenith Holdings the official holding company of China Minzu Securities.

Ma was also found to have instructed his relatives to buy and sell shares of the Founder Securities and earned 49.3 million yuan after he received inside information about a major asset reconstruction between Founder Securities and China Minzu Securities in 2013, the report said. As part of his conviction, Ma’s political rights have been revoked for life, while all his personal assets have been confiscated.

The court said Ma was given a lenient sentence, given that he honestly and voluntarily confessed to his crimes, showed repentance, and was cooperative in returning all his illegal gains. China’s President Xi Jinping has launched a massive anti-graft drive in which over a million officials, including former security czar Zhou Yongkang, have been punished.