June 24, 2020 / 2:29 PM / 10 days ago

Chinese billionaire Wong Kwong Yu released on parole

BEIJING (Reuters) - The founder of Chinese electronics retail giant GOME Retail Holdings Ltd (0493.HK) has been released on parole after spending the past 10 years in prison, a Chinese court said on Wednesday.

Wong Kwong Yu, also GOME’s former chairman, was arrested in 2008 and jailed in 2010, after being sentenced to 14 years for illegal business dealings, insider trading and corporate bribery. Wong, who is also known as Huang Guangyu, was scheduled to be released in February next year after his sentence was shortened.

The Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court decided to release him on parole until Feb. 16 next year, according to a statement posted on the official Weibo account of the Beijing high court. It gave no further details.

GOME did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Shares in Hong Kong-listed GOME Retail had jumped 17.4% after local media reported that he had been released earlier in the day, while subsidiary GOME Finance Technology (0628.HK) surged 47.3%.

Wong, who built GOME Electronics into China’s biggest appliance retailer, was ranked by the Forbes Rich List as China’s richest man with a wealth of 18.1 billion yuan in 2006. By 2019, he had dropped to 280th place on the list, which estimated that his wealth had fallen to 9.4 billion yuan ($1.3 billion).

Local media have reported that Wong had continued to exchange ideas with GOME’s company executives via letters during his imprisonment.

Like many brick-and-mortar retailers, GOME has been trying to navigate the growing popularity of online shopping. Earlier this year, GOME Retail announced that it had formed strategic partnerships with and received investment from e-commerce platforms Pinduoduo and JD.com.($1 = 7.0729 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh; Editing by Alex Richardson

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