A Shanghai court on Friday sentenced Chinese-born Canadian tycoon Xiao Jianhua for 13 years in prison for financial crimes. Xiao’s ‘Tomorrow Holding’ conglomerate was also fined ¥55.03 billion (USD 8.09 billion) in the case. The court held that Xiao and Tomorrow Holding “severely violated financial management order” and “hurt state financial security”.

China had officially put Xiao on trial more than five years after he went missing in Hong Kong. The business tycoon was among China’s richest people when he was allegedly abducted from a hotel in 2017.

His disappearance sent shockwaves through Hong Kong’s elite business community, and it was widely interpreted as a signal the city was no longer beyond the reach of China’s security apparatus.

There had been no official word about Xiao – who is a Canadian citizen – until Ottawa confirmed in July that he was facing trial in Hong Kong. His abduction stoked fears concerning the city’s freedom that was guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” policy agreed to as part of Britain’s 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China.

Xiao had gone missing at a time when Chinese police were still prohibited from operating in Hong Kong, which has a legal system under the “one country, two systems” framework.

Chinese-Canadian tycoon goes missing from Hong Kong

50-year-old Xiao, the founder of Beijing-based Tomorrow Group, was born in China and was known to have links to the Communist Party echelon. His disappearance came as the Xi Jinping government began prosecuting businessmen accused of bribery and other misconduct, in an anti-corruption campaign.

Xiao reportedly worked on behalf of a number of powerful families in China over the course of his career and managed the assets of descendants of prominent Chinese leaders. He was once described by The New York Times as “a banker for the ruling class.” By 2016, he was worth an estimated USD 6 billion.

Xiao disappeared after a number of Chinese businessmen accused him of misconduct. Since then, it has been widely believed that the ruling CCP abducted him outside the mainland. Hong Kong police examined Xiao’s disappearance and claimed the matter crossed the border onto the mainland.

(With inputs from agency)