SHANGHAI - A Chinese court has sentenced an Australian businesswoman to eight years in jail for embezzlement, her lawyer said Friday, in a case her supporters have linked to a business dispute.
Charlotte Chou was accused of embezzling funds from the private school she helped found in China, the South China Institute of Software Engineering, according to Australian media reports.
But her supporters said a former minority shareholder in the company had used influence with officials to have her jailed to try to gain control of the school, the Sydney Morning Herald said on its website.
Her lawyer, Chen Youxi, confirmed the sentence to AFP.
"She is sentenced to eight years in prison," Chen said, but declined to give further details.
The court in China's southern city of Guangzhou could not be reached for comment.
Chou plans to appeal, the Sydney Morning Herald said.
A Chinese court last year jailed Australian businessman Matthew Ng for 13 years on bribery and embezzlement charges, in a case that gained attention at the top levels of the Australian government.
Chinese media have said that case related to Ng's role in a corporate battle between the travel services group he helped found, Et-China, and a Chinese government-owned travel company for control of another firm.
In early 2010, China jailed four employees of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, including Australian passport-holder Stern Hu, on bribery and trade secrets charges.
Hu's trial strained relations between Beijing and Canberra, and stoked concerns among foreign investors about the rule of law in China, a major trading partner of Australia and a keen consumer of its minerals.