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Chinese Court Reviews Businesswoman's Death Sentence After Outcry

Wu Ying, head of the Bense Holding Group, stands on trial for allegedly raising over 390 million yuan by promising high returns to her creditors at the intermediate people's court in Jinhua in eastern China's Zhejiang province, (File April 16, 2009).

Chinese state-controlled media reported Wednesday that the country's highest court will reconsider the death sentence given to a wealthy businesswoman convicted of illegal fundraising.

Thirty-one-year-old Wu Ying lost an appeal to overturn her death sentence last month, prompting public outrage over the harsh sentence on the country's popular microblogs and debates in domestic media.

But reports say China's Supreme People's Court announced Tuesday it is reviewing the details of the case "with caution."

Wu was convicted of illegally raising over $120 million from private investors between 2005 and 2007 by falsely promising high returns.

A high-school dropout, Wu built up her multi-million dollar business empire from a single beauty salon in just three years. Before she was arrested in 2007, she was reported to be the sixth richest woman in mainland China.

Although the death penalty is often handed down for non-violent crimes in China, Wu's case appears to be the first to draw such widespread attention or prompt a public comment from the Supreme Court.

Analysts say many are sympathetic to her rags-to-riches story because it is hard for small, privately owned businesses in China to obtain low-cost loans from state-run banks. This often prompts organizations to turn to informal and unauthorized lending practices.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.