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A Malicious Verdict?
When a Bank (钱庄) vs a Migrate Labourer (打工仔)

26 December 2007

A 24-year old Chinese migrant worker surnamed Xu hired by a security company in Guangdong had never had a brush with laws until one day a year ago he walked past a AMT machine and decided to withdraw 100 yuans of cash. When entering the amount, he accidentally hit the zero button three times instead of two, and that little extra finger movement is proved to be fatal and has changed his life forever.

On that particular day after that fateful moment, Xu collected 1000 yuans even though he only had 170 yuans in credit, and just one yuan was deducted from his account. It seemed that each yuan on his card equalled to a thousand in cash. Amazed, he pressed 1,000 again, and again, he got 1,000 yuans. Xu is not a bad guy, but like the majority of folks working in the banking industry, he is clearly not a saint either, and when an opportunity occurs, greed got hold of him. He repeated his action for 170 times until there was no credit left on his card, by then he had harvested a total of 170,000 yuans in cash.

But as the yin reaches its peak yang will grow, and when yang attains the summit, the time comes for yin to take control, what happened next to Xu once again confirms that this law of the universe is valid all the time and on every occasion. One year later this young man was told by an intermediate court in Guangzhou that he would never have a chance to execute his finger exercise on an AMT machine for he would spend the rest of his life in jail for the crime of "malicious cash withdrawal (恶意提款)".

The extraordinarily heavy sentence has angered a great number of people, and in particular the most vocal members in the community, the Chinese Netizens.

The heated public emotion over the perceived injustice was further heightened by the revelations that the bank has long been compensated by the AMT machine producers, and that a bank manager surnamed Lu once refused Xu's offer when he was on the run to return the money back. Lu reportedly threatened Xu by saying: no matter you repay the money or not, you will have to go to jail.

On Sina, one of the most popular online forums in China, tens thousands of comments were left in a matter of days, with the majority of them being critical of the heavy sentence handed down by the Guangzhou court.

Below are some comments in one of China's most prestigious forum sites, xinhuanet:

When we have some corrupted officials and sinister businessmen who have stolen millions of yuans from the state and are still at large, and now this little guy gets a life for 170,000 yuans - it puzzles me.

Laws should be set up and developed to protect the vulnerable groups of persons in our community (not the other way round).

That bank manager Lu is really full of bearing. Is that whether Xu should go to jail or not determined by him? Crap!

This young man should be criticised on the ethical ground, but not prosecuted for criminal offence, otherwise we'll feel very insecure in life. Now there are already so many things that make us fell quite insecure, this is the latest.

Former Vice Chief Justice of Guangzhou Intermediate Court Xiao took 180,000 yuans of bribery and got three years; former Guangzhou High Court Chief Justice Mai received 1.6 million yuans of bribery and got 15 years. A young man with no criminal record collected 17,000 yuans that the bank is partially responsible for, and he gets a life. Call it justice. While this may deter others from repeating the same offence, it also cows the seeds of discord and hatred.

Once I withdrew 300 yuans from an ATM and got three 100 notes, among which one was fake but I didn't know at the time. When later I used it to pay my electricity bill, the problem was found and I was fined another 100 yuans. I went to the bank to seek justice, but was told once I walked out of their gate, they were free of their responsibilities. The court never charged the bank for issuing fake motes. And now when that poor fella took more money from them due to their own machine problems, he gets a life.
曾经在工行的ATM中取过100块假钱. 当时我一共取款300块,那张假的就夹在中间,因为相信银行,所以就没注意. 恰巧我就用这张假钱去交了电费, 而就是这一百块让我又损失了一百块. 我去找工行的人员理论, 他们说我已经走出银行不予受理. 我无语. 银行发放假钞法院不管,一个小伙子就因为银行的ATM有问题多取了钱就被判无期徒刑!

The bank manager and other relevant bank personnel should be charged of breach of duty for causing the loss of 17,000 yuans. So why aren't they charged?

The precondition for achieving harmony is to hold up justice.
和谐的前提, 必须(是)公正.

The judge delivered a malicious verdict.

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