In China, a Madoff-like schemer gets executed

The government failed to notify his family, however, inflaming the debate about the white-collar death penalty and political corruption.

By Jason Notte Jul 16, 2013 7:30AM
File photo of two Chinese policemen on patrol on June 3, 2013 in Beijing, China (© Feng Li/Getty Images)When baseball's best descend on Citi Field on Tuesday for the All-Star Game, they'll be playing in the New York Mets' home turf that remains haunted by the misdeeds of Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.

His ruse cost the Mets' owners millions and helped transform the franchise from a star-studded contender to a mediocre-at-best set of prospects and spare parts. As The Atlantic notes, China routinely executes people who commit the types of crimes Madoff perpetrated against Mets ownership and many others.

Then again, China sometimes doesn't notify the family of the convicted before executing their loved one. Such was the case with Hunan real estate developer Zeng Chengjie, who defrauded more than 57,000 investors out of approximately $460 million.

He used the money to fund his company and bid for urban development projects in Jishou, a small city in Hunan. However, his daughter insists that more than half the money has been returned and notes that the local government encouraged Zeng's fundraising and worked closely with him on the projects.

When new policies went into effect in 2009, investors started asking for their money back and closed in on Zeng. He was swiftly imprisoned, and his assets were sold. His attorney notes that a state-owned company benefited from Zeng's fall, but his execution came with far worse implications.

Zeng's family wasn't notified before he was put to death, and they didn't see his body before it was cremated. When questioned about Zeng's secret execution, the Intermediate People's Court in Changsha tweeted on Sina Weibo that no law entitles a death row inmate to meet with his family before execution. Internet users pointed out, however, that the Supreme People's Court issued an interpretation that does give death row inmates such a right.

Zeng's execution and the way it was conducted are only feeding the growing debate about the treatment of white-collar criminals in China. While most Chinese still support the death penalty, executing nonviolent economic crimes has created some controversy. Since local governments often play a role in such cases, alleged government misconduct in them has drawn scrutiny.

Zeng's daughter, for example, says China's supreme court approved Zeng's death sentence after the party boss of Hunan at the time of Zeng's conviction became the chief justice.

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Jul 16, 2013 8:53AM
Basically Madoff got away with his crimes, he should have had ALL his property and any and ALL his accounts seized. The government should have sold everything he owned and paid all the people that he ripped off back, as much as they could, then executed him !! He ruined a lot of people's lives and yet he still lives on at taxpayers expense, for what reason ?
Jul 16, 2013 9:46AM
The possibility of execution would discourage Wall Street insider trading and Ponzi schemers like Madoff.  The U.S. just gives them light sentences in country club prisons.  White collar criminal justice is a joke.
Jul 16, 2013 10:20AM



In America he gets a corner office and an endless jar of cocaine.

Jul 16, 2013 10:57AM
Most white collar crimes cause more hurt and damage then the punk who robs the corner 7-11.
The punk always does more hard time.
Madoff, Nacchio, Ken Lay, etc ruined many more lives.
There are things that we can learn from the Chinese.
The US does not have an effective deterrent for committing crimes.
Jul 16, 2013 11:41AM
Jul 16, 2013 10:03AM
Too bad about the "no death penalty for white collar crimes" here.  Looks like both governments are seeing eye to eye on enabling the criminals though.  We just call our government's white collar crime enabler the SEC.  
Jul 16, 2013 11:35AM

This is precisely what they should have done with those responsible for the financial meltdown in 2008.

Their rotting corpses should still be on display in front of the New York Stock Exchange for all to see and remember.

Jul 16, 2013 9:58AM
So what makes US Govt all that different from China's.  Big govt protects itself, uses our $ to benefit themselves, remains totally unaccpountable, and, do sorts kills us, albeit slowly, with taxes, regulation, etc.   
Jul 16, 2013 11:42AM
lets see some one overdrafts a check and is charged with a felony affecting their credit and chance for a job. Another like Madoff and others who never worked a day in his life other than pyramid scheme gets sent off to jail in his late 70`s and keeps most of the loot he embezzled from his investors. Talk about Bizzaro World
Jul 16, 2013 11:34AM
All of congress needs to be executed.
Jul 16, 2013 11:51AM

China can deal with the Madoff's effectively, but behind every Madoff, there are government accomplices that benefited without penalty.


The U.S. legal system is flawed trying to protect each individual's right to the point of ignoring the majority and the common good of all citizens.

Jul 16, 2013 12:05PM
The simple, and just solution is to apply the death penalty to everyone for theft over a particular value, say $10,000.  Just one appeal, and if not overturned execute them immediately.  Crime rates will plummet.
Jul 16, 2013 11:29AM
We don't even execute pedophiles or murderers in this soft country.  The worst thing we can do to a wealthy scammer, is make sure they live in poverty once released from jail.
Jul 16, 2013 10:53AM
China is a country of barbaric old men!! Nobody has any rights, except them,they lie ,cheat.steal,pollute the earth at a rate far greater than any other country,openly back terrorist countries and regimes.
They exploit their own people,execute without notice to anyone..
Yet everybody smiles in their faces,Hypocrites!!
Madoff should have been executed,his money and his wifes ,should be distributed to his victims
Send that bastard to china,see how long he lasts!!!!
Jul 16, 2013 11:38AM
IN this country they never get what's coming to them. Most of the time nothing happens. The deck is stacked against everyone else. WE live in a Republic not a Democracy. WE only protect the few from the many
Jul 16, 2013 12:36PM
If our society had any balls at all, it would follow suite. But no. These humans are so precious. I think its why child molesters and rapist  get to breath air. We are governed by spineless jellyfish.
Jul 16, 2013 12:15PM
China is so far advanced compared to the U.S. in appropriate punishment it is pitiful.  All the lawmaker jackasses in the U.S. think of is the rights of the poor, downtrodden criminal - the hell with the victims.  We must eradicate the current administration and start from scratch.  And anyone accusing me of being a Nazi can kiss my butt.
Jul 16, 2013 12:01PM
The hell with life for these crooks.  Let's give all convicted lifers an option for death by lethal injection ( or by whatever other means states use ) and eliminate the average cost of $ 61,000 it costs to keep them around per year.  People with a life and or a death sentence serve no purpose to society.  I'm not saying that anyone should not be denied an appeal , just given the option at sentencing or by volunteering to do so while incarcerated.  Another thing, let's make their organs available for transplant..  Just a couple of thoughts...any comments  ?...
Jul 16, 2013 11:42AM
Shame on Madoff's kid for not calling his parents before he blew his brains out and leaving us with another mess to clean up 
Jul 16, 2013 12:19PM
The United States needs a while collar death penalty !
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