(Updates with diplomatic ties in fourth paragraph.)
Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- A Chinese court sentenced an Australian businessman to 13 years in jail on charges of bribery and embezzlement, according to the government in Canberra.
Matthew Ng, who was tried in a court in Guangzhou, is expected to appeal the sentence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an e-mailed statement today.
Diplomatic officials in the southern Chinese city are providing consular assistance to Ng and his family and have visited him in detention as recently as last month, the statement said. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have raised the case with Chinese authorities in recent months, the department said.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner and its demand for iron ore and coal is driving the nation’s biggest resources boom in a century. Ties between the two countries were strained in 2010 with the trial and imprisonment in China of Stern Hu, an Australian convicted of accepting bribes and commercial spying while working for Rio Tinto Group.
Ng’s lead lawyer, Chen Youxi, told the court the criminal case had been orchestrated by a third party as leverage in its attempt to obtain his travel company, Et-China, cheaply, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported today.
The company’s chairman was sentenced to 16 years in prison while its chief financial officer was given a 3 1/2-year term, also on related embezzlement and corporate charges, the newspaper said.
--Editor: Peter Vercoe
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