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Corruption haunts Wenzhou high-rise project
By Li Jing (Chian Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-05 08:22

Some corrupt officials overseeing consturction matters take bribes from contractors, which results in ramshackle buildings in many parts of the country.

The latest example is a sub-standard building in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province.

Some 43 officials involved in the 22-storey building, which cost nearly 40 million yuan (US$4.8 million), have been accused of taking bribes from the developer.

Nineteen of those cases have been transferred to local judicial organs for further investigation, according to a report broadcast yesterday by China Central Television (CCTV).

The 93-metre-tall building, backed by the Wenzhou Branch of the Bank of China, will soon be demolished because of severe quality problems, said Chen Zhengguang, an official with the Wenzhou Construction Bureau.

Chen said the developer, an engineering and construction company in Maoming, a city in South China's Guangdong Province, did shoddy work and used inferior materials in the project.

The manager of the construction company - Chen Xiwu, was arrested in 2002 and confessed that he offered bribes to related officials and bank employees to win the bid for the project in 1995 despite the fact that his company was not certified by Wenzhou construction authorities.

The former vice-president of the bank branch and a senior employee who was in charge of construction projects were sentenced to terms of eight and five years in prison for taking bribes. The vice-director of the Tending Office of the Wenzhou government was sentenced to seven years.

Despite the number of arrested to date, the investigation into the corruption surrounding the building project is far from complete, CCTV reported

According to the Wenzhou branch of the bank, the developer got more than 35 million yuan (US$4.2 million) for the project, but the company's cost were only 23 million yuan (US$2.8 million).

Authorities are now trying to figure out what happened to the other US$1.4 million, said the report.

Moreover, the developer, Chen, who was sentenced to five and a half years' in prison at his first trial was released on bail on appeal due to insufficient evidence.

According to the Intermediate People's Court of Wenzhou, the evidence presented only proved that Chen had offered bribes of 73,000 yuan (US$8,800).

Wei Na, a judge in charge of Chen's case at the court, said that amount did not reach the bottom line of 100,000 yuan (US$12,100) that constitutes a crime.

Meanwhile, there is no evidence that the former president of the bank branch, Ye Zheng, who made the final decision to select Chen's company for the project, received any bribes in this case.

Ye's wife and son were suspected of taking bribes connected to the project but since they are living abroad it is difficult to collect evidence, said Tong Jianhua, secretary-general of the Commission for Discipline Inspection with the Zhejiang Branch of the Bank of China.

Ye was sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment last year for taking bribes in several other projects. The 66-year-old man is receiving medical treatment on bail in Wenzhou, says the report.

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