Zeng Chengjie, a self-made businessman who pulled himself up by the bootstraps from abject poverty to become a powerful real estate developer, was showered with accolades and superfluous praises for most of his life. In 2006, the local state-owned media in Hunan, his home province, wrote a glowing profile of the "diligent, wise and conscientious man," concluding that "the future, for Zeng, is starting new ventures, new glories and new legends!"
But the future had other plans. Zeng was executed on July 12, 2013 by lethal injection. His crimes were illegal fundraising activities and financial fraud. He allegedly defrauded more than 57,000 investors out of approximately RMB 2.8 billion (US $460 million), of which RMB 1.7 billion had been returned. He used the money to fund his company that bid for urban development projects, including key local landmarks and public facilities, in Jishou, a small city in Hunan.
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Zeng's family was not notified before his execution, and did not see his body before it was cremated. Zeng's daughter used an account on Sina Weibo, @曾成杰之女, to protest her father's trial and execution.