Human Rights Watch said "China is clearly taking a major step backwards." Chinese officials said crimes committed by Mr Lai were during his time as chairman of Huarong Asset Management. The financial firm was set up in 1999 to to take bad debts off China's largest state-owned banks. On Tuesday, a court in the northern city of Tianjin, said his crimes had "caused serious losses to the interests of the country".
"Imposing the death sentence on Lai Xiaomin for financial crimes, such as bribe taking, is outrageous and unacceptable and clearly violates China's commitments to respect international human rights standards," Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch told the BBC.