A Chinese business executive was sentenced to death for swindling $385 million from investors in a fake ant-breeding scheme, a court official said Thursday.
The executive, Wang Zhendong, chairman of the Yingkou Donghua Trading Group Company, had promised returns of up to 60 percent for buying kits of ants and breeding equipment from two companies he set up, news media reported.
Ants are used in some traditional Chinese medicinal remedies, which can fetch a high price. Mr. Wang sold the kits, which cost $25, for $1,300, the Xinmin Evening News and other newspapers reported.
Mr. Wang promoted his products through advertising and drew in more than 10,000 investors from 2002 to June 2005, when investigators shut down his companies, the Web site of the People’s Daily reported.
Prosecutors told the Intermediate People’s Court in Yingkou, in northeastern China, that one investor committed suicide after realizing he had been duped, and only $1.28 million of the swindled money had been recovered by the time the case was filed with the court last June, the official Xinhua News Agency said.