Special measures planned for corruption trials

By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-13 06:53

SHANGHAI: Shanghai High People's Court yesterday announced harsh measures for the trial of suspects caught up in corruption scandals which have shook the city.

Special proceedings, normally reserved for cases likely to have a wide social impact, will be applied in the trials of suspects in the 3.45 billion yuan ($445 million) pension fund scandal and property tycoon Zhou Zhengyi's trial for bribery and forgery of VAT receipts.

Exact details of the measures have yet to be released.

The 3.45 billion yuan misuse of the city's social security fund was uncovered in the middle of 2006. The money is believed to have been misappropriated for illicit loans and investments.

The scandal led to the arrest of senior officials including former Party chief Chen Liangyu and former national chief statistician Qiu Xiaohua, as well as the heads of major enterprises heads including Zhang Rongkun, the 16th richest person in the country according to the Forbes 2005 list.

Chen, 59, who got the boot from the Party when the scandal was uncovered, is the highest level Party official to be sacked in more than a decade, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Most of the suspects have now been cleared for judicial proceedings, mayor Han Zheng said in a speech to the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress.

All misappropriated funds, including interest and totalling 3.7 billion yuan, have now been retrieved.

Prosecutors' offices in Shanghai, Jilin and Anhui provinces are also working on the case.

"In addition to the 11 suspects in Shanghai, prosecutors offices in Jilin and Anhui are dealing with about a dozen others," Han was quoted as saying by Shanghai Securities News.

The discovery of the misuse of social security funds also led to the arrest of real estate tycoon Zhou Zhengyi for bribery and forgery of VAT receipts.

In 2002 Zhou Zhengyi was the 11th richest person in the country according to the Forbes list. He was arrested in September 2003 for fraud and stock market manipulation and released in May 2006.

Five months later, Zhou was arrested again for suspected bribery and forgery of VAT receipts.

Zhou is being investigated for paying bribes to futures traders and to the head of the detention center where he was last imprisoned. Huang Jian, the detention center head, was arrested at the end of 2006, according to Shanghai Securities News.

Zhou's company, Shanghai Nongkai Development Group is alleged to have forged VAT receipts for large amounts of money on Zhou's orders.

Investigations into the two cases will be finished soon and all suspects will face trial, according to Shanghai High People's Court.

The trial will be carried out exactly according to law no matter who the suspects are or how rich they are, said a release from the court.

The court also said it will try to avoid giving suspended prison sentences or sentences which do not involve jail to suspects found guilty of graft, bribery, or taking advantage of their positions.

(China Daily 02/13/2007 page4)

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