Chinese billionaire Huang Guangyu, ranked No. 1 on the 2008 Hurun Report Rich List of China’s wealthiest business people, is the latest victim of China’s crackdown against freewheeling business barons. On Tuesday, a Beijing court sentenced Huang Guangyu to 14 years in prison for “illegal business dealings, insider trading, and corporate bribery” and fined him $88milion as well as confiscated assets worth 429million. His wife Du Juan received a 3½-year sentence and a fine of $29 million. His fortune was estimated at up to $6.3 billion. Even after his detention, Huang was No. 17 on last year’s list with a net worth of $3.4 billion. This is definitely a sad ending to his rags to riches story. Born to poor farmers in south China, Huang helped recycle rubbish to get by.
At the age of 16, he dropped out of school, and in 1986, he and his older brother used their $585 earnings and a $4,400 loan to open a clothes shop in Beijing. They soon moved into imported household appliances. Today, Huang is credited with founding China’s equivalent of Best Buy. In fact, Huang and his 1,100-store company, Gome Electronics, were entrepreneurial success symbols for several years.
As Huang prepares his 14-year long stay behind bars, there is only one consolation, and he still owns 34% of Gome.