China jails Australian businessman for 13 years

A Chinese court on Tuesday jailed an Australian businessman for 13 years on bribery and embezzlement charges.

Last Updated: Dec 06, 2011, 22:25 PM IST

Beijing: A Chinese court on Tuesday jailed an
Australian businessman for 13 years on bribery and
embezzlement charges, his lawyer said, in a case that has
drawn top level interest in Canberra.

Matthew Ng, who was working for travel services group
Et-China in the southern city of Guangzhou at the time of his
arrest in November 2010, will appeal the verdict, his lawyer
said.

"Matthew Ng was sentenced to two years for
misappropriating company funds, two years for falsifying the
registered capital of his company, two years for bribery and
eight years for embezzling public funds," Chen Yong said.

"Altogether he was sentenced to 14 years, but this was
reduced to 13 years."

Chen said Ng had denied all four charges, and was
"determined to appeal" the verdict handed down by the
Guangzhou court.

Australia`s Sydney Morning Herald said Ng told the judge
presiding over his case, "we are the sacrificial objects of
this case," at the sentencing, attended by Australian consular
officials and Ng`s wife.

Ng was charged in late 2010, two weeks after he was
detained by police in Guangzhou on suspicion of
"misappropriating company assets".

He had helped found Et-China in 2000 and previously
worked as an investment banker in Australia, New Zealand and
Southeast Asia.

"Thirteen years for Matthew, I don`t think he can take
it," Ng`s wife Niki Chow, with whom he has three young
children, told the Sydney Morning Herald from Guangzhou.

"He was shocked, very shocked, nobody expected the
verdict would be today."

Chinese media have said the case relates to Ng`s role in
Et-China`s battle with a government-owned travel company for
control of domestic travel agency GZL, one of the largest in
southern China.

Guangzhou judicial authorities refused immediate comment
on the case when contacted by AFP, while China`s foreign
ministry also declined to discuss the specifics.

"The competent authorities tried the case in accordance
with the law," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told
reporters.

Ng`s case has been discussed by Australian and Chinese
leaders, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard raising the subject
during a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing in
April.

"We have made clear to Chinese authorities our strong
interest in Mr Ng`s case," said an Australian foreign ministry
spokeswoman who confirmed the sentencing.

PTI