Liu Han, a tycoon linked to Zhou Yongkang

Liu Han

Liu Han, 49, a Chinese mining tycoon believed to have links to China's former top security chief Zhou Yongkang, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by a court in Hubei Province in May for leading a gang on a crime spree spanning two decades.

The sentencing of Liu was the culmination of one of the highest-profile cases against a private businessman since President Xi Jinping took office last year and began a campaign against pervasive graft.

Liu is the former chairman of Hanlong Group, an energy conglomerate based in southwestern China's Sichuan Province that owns stakes in mines in Australia and the United States, and once tried to take over an Australian mining company, Sundance Resources Limited.

Sichuan was a power base for Zhou Yongkang, who stands at the center of the biggest corruption scandal in more than six decades, sources have told Reuters.

Liu, who was ranked 148th on Forbes' list of the richest Chinese business people in 2012, was once a business associate of Zhou Bin, the eldest son of Zhou Yongkang, who is being investigated over suspicion of "serious disciplinary violations".

State media have not explicitly linked Liu's case to Zhou Yongkang, but have said that Liu's rise coincided with Zhou Yongkang's time as Sichuan's Communist Party chief.

Prosecutors in Hubei Province said that Liu and his younger brother formed the gang in 1993. It "carried out a vast number of criminal activities", including the murders of nine people, they said.

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