Courts handle more bribery cases

By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-12-08 08:49

Nearly 600 government officials at the county level and above have been prosecuted for graft in real estate and infrastructure projects in the first 10 months of this year, the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) said on Thursday.

A total of 4,240 bribery cases related to the two fields and involving a combined 657 million yuan ($88,7 million) have been investigated, a SPP statement said. These accounted for 45.1 percent of all graft cases during the period.

There were 3,039 cases involving bribes worth at least 50,000 yuan ($6,757).

"Bribery occurred more in public infrastructure and government-funded real estate projects," the statement said.

The four areas most rife with graft were city infrastructure, land transfers, project construction and real estate development.

"Most of the bribery cases involved the sacking of officials, including those in charge of city planning, land management or utility administrations," the statement said.

Prosecutors have brought 1,613 government officials to courts during the first 10 months.

In July, former transport chief of Zhejiang Province Zhao Zhanqi was sentenced to life imprisonment for accepting 6.2 million yuan ($837,893) in bribes.

He had used his authority to influence project tenders and contracts as vice director of the provincial development and planning commission, deputy head of the Xiaoshan airport construction headquarters and head of the provincial communications department.

To counter the growing problem of commercial bribery in these fields, the SPP has designed special strategies for investigating such cases.

It directly supervised probes on 20 major cases, including that of former deputy director of Shanghai Housing, Land and Resources Administration Yin Guoyuan.

Chen Guangzhong, a renowned professor in criminal procedure law at the Chinese University of Politics and Law, called for further restriction and supervision over public power and more severe punishment for bribers.

"Government affairs, such as biding projects, should always be conducted openly and according to due procedures and rules," Chen told China Daily.

"Those giving bribes should also be heavily punished," he added.

Of the 4,240 cases, only 866 dealt with bribers, who usually receive much lighter sentences than those who accept them.

"The potential for profits and low levels of risk have made it so that those who give bribes have little fear of legal consequences," Chen said.

The number of commercial bribery cases Chinese courts dealt with rose to 4,406 in the first seven months of 2007, 8.2 percent more than the same period of last year, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) said in September.

Nearly 95 percent of the total cases involved civil servants.

In September, the SPC and the SPP redefined the scope of bribery from government officials and employees of State- or privately owned companies to include government officials and all non-government officials.

A total of 31,119 commercial bribery cases were dealt with in China in the past two years before August 2007, with 7.079 billion yuan ($956.8 million) involved, sources with the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China said earlier.

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