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Hengfeng Bank ex-chairman sentenced to death with two-year reprieve

BEIJING (Reuters) – The former chairman of China’s troubled Hengfeng Bank was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, a local court said on Thursday.

Jiang Xiyun was convicted of corruption, receiving bribes, illegally issuing financial notes, and illegally destroying accounting vouchers and accounting books, according to the Yantai Intermediate People’s Court.

The court verdict means that if Jiang commits no further crimes over the next two years, his sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment, according to Chinese law.

The Shandong-based bank is in the midst of a restructuring led by the government.

The lender has not released its annual report since 2017 due to management and liquidity issues.

The banking and insurance regulatory watchdog appointed its staff to head the bank in 2017, but the restructuring process has dragged since then.

Concerns over Hengfeng were rekindled by the state seizure of Baoshang Bank earlier this year and the state rescue of Bank of Jinzhou, sharpening concerns about the health of hundreds of small lenders as economic growth slows to near 30-year lows.

Hengfeng Bank said earlier this month that it would issue 100 billion shares through a private placement, in one of the largest state-led rescues of small Chinese banks.

Singapore’s United Overseas Bank <UOBH.SI> has a stake in Hengfeng Bank.

(Reporting by Judy Hua, Lusha Zhang and Ryan Woo; editing by Jason Neely and Gareth Jones)