Tycoon guilty of bribing officials

By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-23 07:21

SHANGHAI: An investigation into the pension fund fraud has found real estate tycoon Zhou Zhengyi guilty of bribing officials, the first spokesman for Shanghai Prosecutor's Office Zou Chuanji said yesterday.

The more than 3-billion-yuan financial scam led to the fall of the city's former Party chief Chen Liangyu. Huge amounts were misappropriated from the city's pension fund and used for highway construction and property investment.

Zou, however, didn't give the details on how the bribery occured or who received illicit money.

Zhou is the 11th richest man in the country and was on the Forbes 2002 list. He was arrested in September 2003 for fraud and manipulating the stock market and released in May 2006.

Five months later, he was detained again for being part of a bribery scandal and forging VAT receipts.

This Sunday, he was formally charged in the bribery case, Zou said.

Before Zhou's detention, Tang Haigen, his sister-in-law's brother, was dismissed as deputy to the Municipal People's Congress on charges of misappropriation and bribery. And in December, Huang Jian, head of Shanghai Detention Center, was reportedly detained for receiving bribes from Zhou in exchange for a cell phone and better meals in prison.

Zou said the prosecutor's offices have intensified their probes into bribery and corruption. In 2006, they investigated 446 cases, 10 per cent more than the previous year, with almost half of them involving civil servants and 18.2 per cent related to officials above the rank of deputy divisional chief.

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are still the major breeding ground for corrupt officials 53 percent of the 446 cases were related to major SOEs.

In September, several senior officials including former Party chief Chen Liangyu and heads of major SOEs were sacked for being part of the pension fund fraud.

The Shanghai Prosecutor's Office announced yesterday that corruption in the Party and the government would be the focus of their investigation this year. The prosecutor's offices and the discipline, audit and financial inspection departments have vowed to strengthen cooperation to root out the corruption.

(China Daily 01/23/2007 page4)

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