, BEIJING, July 11- China on Friday commuted the fraud sentence of businesswoman Wu Ying — once listed among its richest women but later condemned to death — to life imprisonment, state media reported.
Wu, 33, a hairdresser who built a business empire from scratch, was initially sentenced to death in 2009 for swindling private investors out of about 380 million yuan ($61 million).
The penalty provoked a public outcry over concerns that the court dealt with her particularly harshly because she was a private entrepreneur, and worries that the government intended to curb business freedom.
China’s Supreme Court overturned the sentence in 2012, before the high court of the eastern province of Zhejiang reduced it to death with a two-year reprieve later in the year.
Under Chinese laws, a suspended death sentence can be commuted to life imprisonment if the prisoner does not commit further crimes during the reprieve period, or 25 years in jail if the inmate performs a “significant deed of merit”.
The official Xinhua news agency said Wu had her sentence commuted to life imprisonment at a retrial on Friday.
The Hurun Report, a Chinese wealth publisher, ranked her as the country’s sixth-richest woman in 2006, with a net worth of 3.6 billion yuan (now $580 million), reports said.