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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

21 Jailed in Loan Scam at Biggest Bank in China

BEIJING -- China has jailed at least 21 people, including government officials and bankers, in connection with millions of dollars worth of illegal loans from the country's biggest commercial bank, the country's state media said Monday.

Officials and bankers had accepted bribes and forged documents enabling Feng Mingchang, owner of a private venture, to swindle 632 million yuan ($76.36 million) in loans from the Nanhai branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China since 1999, the China News Service said.

Lin Yuxing, former deputy director of ICBC's Nanhai branch, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, and Lin Jinting, another deputy director of the branch, was sentenced to 20 years in jail, it said.

Ye Jiasheng, former deputy governor of ICBC's Guangdong branch, was sentenced to 12 years in jail for accepting bribes.

The loan scam was made public last year after China's National Audit Office provided a report on its 2003 findings to the National People's Congress, the communist state's largely ceremonial parliament.

The China Daily newspaper said in January that Feng, owner of a building materials manufacturing company in southern Guangdong province, had swindled 7.4 billion yuan ($894 million) in loans from the Nanhai branch in the 1990s.

About 80 officials involved had received harsh punishment, it said, adding that more than 150 others were involved in the scam.

A large chunk of funds was transferred abroad, with more than 2 billion yuan not yet recovered, according to the National Audit Office report.

Feng was sentenced to life in prison, stripped of his political rights and had his assets confiscated, China News Service said.

The ICBC loan scam was one in a string of scandals to emerge from the 2003 probe into Chinese companies by the National Audit Office.

ICBC, China's biggest state-run commercial bank in terms of assets, has been trying to improve its management and asset quality but is widely regarded as one of the country's most debt-ridden banks in desperate need of government aid.

Analysts widely expect the bank to receive a capital injection of up to $45 billion this year to help it write down bad loans and recapitalize its crippled balance sheet ahead of a potential listing.