• By The Financial District

China Sentences Ex-Chairman Of Kweichow Moutai To Life In Prison

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

The former chairman of China's most valuable drinks maker, Kweichow Moutai, has been sentenced to life in prison after a court found him guilty of taking bribes, Hanna Ziady reported for CNN Business.

Photo Insert: Former Kweichow Moutai, Yuan Renguo

In the latest example of Beijing's long-running crackdown on corruption, a court in the company's home province of Guizhou on Thursday sentenced Yuan Renguo for accepting bribes, including property, worth nearly 113 million Chinese yuan ($17.5 million.)

In a statement, the court said that an investigation found he had used his various positions at Kweichow Moutai between 1994 and 2018 to help distributors secure deals for Moutai baijiu, the company's hugely popular luxury spirit, Shawn Deng, Laura He, and Michelle Toh also reported for CNN Business.

Moutai baijiu is a clear, potent spirit that's been dubbed "firewater," thanks to the fact that it's 53% alcohol. The red-and-white bottles of its flagship product, "Feitian," or "Flying Fairy," are a staple at Chinese state banquets and business events.

It was also known to be the favorite tipple of Mao Zedong, founder of Communist China. The court said that Yuan had confessed to most of his crimes and was therefore "punished lightly," adding that all his private property had been confiscated.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

Yuan's sentencing serves as a stark reminder of Beijing's long-running clampdown on corruption, which has affected Moutai previously. In 2013, the company's sales slumped and its share price tumbled when President Xi Jinping embarked on a drive to stamp out extravagant spending among officials, including on expensive liquor.

Business: Business men in suite and tie in a work meeting in the office located in the financial district.

Still, it remains one of China's most valuable companies with a market capitalization bigger than the combined value of global distillers ABInBev, Diageo, and Heineken. China regularly investigates powerful executives for corruption — while using the findings to send a warning to others.

In January, a Chinese court sentenced the former chairman of one of China's biggest asset management companies, Lai Xiaomin, to death after finding him guilty of bribery.


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