Chinese retail tycoon's fraud conviction thrown out

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China's supreme court has thrown out the fraud conviction of a retail tycoon in an unusual gesture of official leniency toward entrepreneurs amid a string of high-profile detentions and prosecutions that has rattled the Chinese business world.

The Supreme People's Court ruling Thursday reversed the conviction of Zhang Wenzhong, former chairman of Wumart Stores, who served 12 years in prison on charges of improperly obtaining technology development subsidies.

A number of Chinese businesspeople have been prosecuted or detained for questioning about possible offenses including embezzlement and bribery.

On Wednesday, a lawyer for the imprisoned founder of the insurance company that owns New York City's Waldorf Hotel said he planned to appeal his 18-year sentence imposed this month on fraud charges.