He resigned as Gome director and chairman in January 2009 and his trial began last month.

Billion-dollar empire

Huang set up Gome with about 30,000 yuan ($4,400) in the 1980s.

The company has since become a household name, earning the founder the nickname "China's Sam Walton", a reference to the founder of US retail giant Wal-Mart.

Huang, who is in his early 40s and had a net worth of $6.3bn in 2008, topped the annual Hurun Report's rankings of China's richest people for that year.

He also ranked first in 2004 and 2005.

Gome has been trying to separate itself from Huang, changing its logo, appointing a new chairman and selling a nearly 25 per cent stake to US private equity firm Bain Capital in a $418m deal last June.