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More Chinese officials probed for graft in 2012

Publication Date : 29-10-2012

 

National system put in place to fight corruption

 

The number of officials investigated for corruption and dereliction of duty has risen this year, a prosecutor said.

From January to August, prosecutors across the country had investigated 12.7 per cent more officials, for crimes related to their office, from a year ago, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Of these, 75.9 per cent were accused of corruption and taking bribes. The remainder were under investigation for dereliction of duty.

The worst-hit sectors included engineering, construction, rail and transportation, finance and real estate, said Song Hansong, a director of the Supreme People's Procuratorate's corruption prevention department.

"Powers are centralised and capital flow is intense in these sectors," he said.

Song said prosecutors had also found an increase in corrupt officials fleeing abroad after transferring their assets to other countries. He did not give details.

Officials who consider fleeing usually take a number of similar steps, Song said.

The first step involves sending family members to immigrate, open a business or study. They then transfer their property by money laundering, underground banks or illegal investment and wait for an opportunity to go themselves.

Song mentioned one particular case in June 2006.

Zhou Jinhuo, a former director of administration for industry and commerce in Fujian province was involved in corruption worth 100 million yuan (US$16 million), and fled to the United States. He is still a fugitive there.

Documents from the Supreme People's Procuratorate show that Zhou helped those who bribed him in the bidding process for projects, as well as granting them favourable land rights, from 2003 to 2006.

His wife managed to obtain a US green card by 2006.

In a case in April, Wang Guoqiang, former Party chief of Fengcheng, Liaoning province, fled to the US after transferring property valued at 200 million yuan, according to the provincial commission for discipline inspection.

Media reported that Wang's daughter had been studying in the US and Wang got a passport and visa to attend his daughter's graduation ceremony. He fled the country in April with his wife.

Song said that crimes involving bribery are becoming increasingly well concealed behind layers of what might appear, at first glance, as legitimate transactions.

"Bribes are offered in various ways, such as consultant fees, investment, shares, dividends, or sponsoring children studying abroad," he said.

Song also said that those receiving the bribes are seeking not just quick money but a life-changing amount.

Given the immense harm that these crimes can do to society, the top procuratorate has made huge efforts to tackle them, especially in areas where livelihood issues are at stake, such as house demolition, social security, education and healthcare.

Prosecutors across the country have, since last year, examined and assessed 1,207 major construction programmes to make sure corruption did not occur, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

This year, a national system to keep track of bribery convictions has been set up. Individuals or companies that have records of offering bribes in the past may be disqualified from bidding or denied access to future projects.

However, Song emphasised that these crimes are deeply rooted in the social management system.

"Outdated social management modes and centralised power offer officials the chance to abuse their power," he said. "The fundamental way out is to deepen economic, political and administrative reforms to limit officials' power and tighten supervision."

Song said the Supreme People's Procuratorate will work with the National People's Congress to push forward anti-corruption legislation.

Hong Daode, a professor from China University of Political Science and Law, also proposed speeding up the legislation to publicise assets.

Now officials above the county level are required to report assets to higher-level Party organisations, but the information is not publicly released.

*US$1=6.26 yuan

 

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