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Media executive jailed in China for blackmail

Beijing: Prominent former news executive in China was today sentenced to four years in prison for extortion and fraud by forcing firms into paying to avoid negative coverage.

Shen Hao, the former president of the China’s media house the 21st Century Media Co Ltd, was convicted of extortion and forced transactions, among other crimes, the People’s Court of Shanghai’s Pudong New District said in a statement.

According to the verdict, Shen was fined 60,000 yuan (USD 9,250) and all his illegal gains were confiscated.

The media group was fined 9.485 million yuan (USD 1.5 million).

The court determined the 21st Century Media and Shen, from August 2009 to Sept 2014, coerced nine companies and organisations into paying more than 7.28 million yuan to avoid negative coverage.

A network of media, advertisement and operation companies controlled by the 21st Century Media participated in the scheme, the court said.

The court also determined 21st Century Media and Shen, together with their controlled companies, coerced 70 companies and organisations into signing advertisement contracts worth a total of 18.97 million yuan, by threat of negative coverage or hinting that no advertisement on their media platform could lead to failed IPO.

Shen was arrested along with 30 people in August this year andprosecuted for blackmail.