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Three years ago, an effort to reform China’s forestry industry – which was supposed to help close the wide wealth chasm between the country’s rural and urban halves – resulted instead in a parade of swindlers and middlemen to places like Anjia, persuading the locals to sign away the usage rights to their land for a pittance, then selling it to bigger foreign and domestic companies that were looking to cash in on one of the biggest property transfers in history.

In the case of Anjia and three other towns around it, the end buyer was Sino-Forest Corp., a TSX-listed company now facing allegations of massive fraud.

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