With all the imitation brand-name goods that proliferate in China, one Chinese man, Lin Chunping, has taken posturing to the next level: He’s an imitation banker.
Or at least he was. Now he is beginning a life sentence in Wenzhou, a city in Eastern China, after being convicted of reporting hundreds of millions of yuan worth of fake tax invoices, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Lin is most famous for telling the world he had purchased the Atlantic Bank of America, a bank that was brought to the brink of bankruptcy during the financial crisis. As authorities later found out, Lin not only didn't buy the bank, it doesn’t even exist.
The deal was widely reported in the Chinese press following Lin’s high-profile announcement at an entrepreneurs forum in Wenzhou in early 2012. He bought the bank for $60 million, he said.
Lin’s lie was exposed by a Xinhua news agency reporter in March 2012, shortly after he was appointed to Wenzhou’s People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory board that assists municipal lawmakers.
The Chinese government has been meting out severe punishments for economic crimes this year. Several entrepreneurs have been sentenced to death for illegal fundraising, a vague charge that covers a range of activities, from Ponzi schemes to running an underground bank.
Lin could not be reached for comment.