Ex-SFDA chief goes on trial for graft

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-17 06:55

Zheng Xiaoyu, the former chief of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), was accused of taking bribes amounting 6.4 million yuan at an initial court hearing yesterday.

Several top procurators and judges were present at yesterday's hearing at the No 1 Intermediate People's Court in Beijing.

Zheng was also accused of dereliction of duty and not according to earlier reports of "abuse of power".

"The change in accusation might lead to a lighter sentence for Zheng," a source close to the case, said.

According to the source, under the charge of power abuse, Zheng could be accused of intentionally trading power for money. But the charge of dereliction of duty might only indicate Zheng was negligent in his duties.

Zheng forcibly promoted to the country's thousands of drug makers a certification system called Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) which was brought into disrepute by a series of health scares and corruption scandals.

Zheng, 63, was removed from his post in June 2005. In December 2006, he was accused of taking bribes during his eight years as head of the top drug watchdog.

Sources with the court said no verdict is unlikely to be reached before June.

The China Business News said earlier that 31 people are alleged to be involved in the corruption scandal, with several of them holding senior positions within the pharmaceutical industry.

Zheng's wife Liu Naixue and son Zheng Hairong, plus a number of drug companies were also investigated.

One firm named was the Kongliyuan Group from South China's Hainan Province. It is alleged to have bribed Zheng in return for SFDA approvals of 277 medicines, most of which were antibiotics that yield high profits.

The head of the company has been detained pending further investigation.

The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the country's foremost disciplinary department, began investigating the case in December.

In November, Hao Heping, the former director of the administration's medical equipment department, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for accepting bribes.

Cao Wenzhuang, Zheng's former secretary and later director of the administration's drug registration department before being detained by the CPC watchdog last January, was also accused of taking bribes totaling 2 million yuan. A court hearing on Cao will be held soon in the same court, according to his lawyer.

Both Hao and Cao had previously worked as Zheng's secretary and had the power to approve new medicines or medical equipment.

Following a number of graft cases, the administration has made efforts to clean its own house with the introduction this year of a series of anti-corruption measures and regulations.

(China Daily 05/17/2007 page3)

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