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China ‘Red Cross’ woman jailed over gambling scandal

September 10, 2015

China sentenced a woman who embroiled the China Red Cross in scandal to prison for running a gambling ring, the court said Thursday, a year after she publicly confessed on state television.

Guo Meimei was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 50,000 yuan ($7,800) for operating a gambling ring, Beijing’s Dongcheng District People’s Court said on its official Sina Weibo account, a Chinese version of Twitter.

Guo was detained last year on suspicion of illegal gambling during the football World Cup, and in August 2014, state broadcaster CCTV aired her lengthy televised “confession”.

Guo triggered a wave of public ire in 2011 when she flaunted her wealth online and claimed she was the general manager of a firm called “Red Cross Commerce”, which web users took to mean she had received embezzled funds.

“Guo Meimei Baby”, as she is known online, posted photos of her opulent lifestyle to nearly two million followers on Sina Weibo, posing in front of a Maserati and sipping a drink in business class on a plane.

The China Red Cross denied any ties to Guo, and the actress and singer later insisted that she had made up her job title.

In her confession last year, clad in an orange prison vest, she acknowledged that she had helped organise a gambling ring and had “many times” engaged in sex for money.

There was no mention of the latter crime in the court’s verdict.

bdh/iw

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.