Massive smuggling trial gets to court
An opening hearing related to the notorious Xiamen smuggling scandal was held Thursday in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, drawing public attention nationwide.
The Chengdu Intermediate Court heard from lawyers regarding charges against the Tibet Summit Industry Company Ltd for smuggling huge amounts of motorcycles, auto parts and oil.
The firm was registered in the Tibet Autonomous Region but was based in Chengdu.
The case is believed to be connected to the notorious smuggling ring headed by mastermind Lai Changxing,of Xiamen, in East China's Fujian Province.
Lai was charged with being responsible for smuggling US$10 billion worth of goods in collaboration with corrupt officials, the biggest smuggling operation uncovered in China since 1949. Lai remains on the run.
An investigation into the Tibet Summit case shows that from November 1998 to April 2001, He Bing, chairman of Tibet Summit Industry and its affiliate Tibet Summit Motor Industrial Company, smuggled some 20,000 motorcycles, 33,000 motor engines, 17,000 sets of motorized gear and almost 1 million litres of lubricating oil through the Xiamen Port.
He Bing's gang evaded taxes totalling 824.05 million yuan (US$99.6 million).
He Bing was arrested in November 2002 after the smuggling allegations became public.
To better communicate with Lai, He Bing ordered his follower He Shuang to establish a subordinate company of Tibet Summit Industry in Xiamen.
From November 1998 to September 1999, He Shuang repeatedly received and sold smuggled goods from Lai Changxing.
From 1999 to early 2001, Tibet Summit's branch company in Xiamen, together with Tibet Summit Motor Industrial, cheated customs on prices and quantities of goods it managed to pass through the port of coastal Shenzhen and transported the goods to Chengdu.
Both Lai and He bribed customs officials to get a green light to continue their smuggling. Li Dong, former chief officer of the examination department of customs in Chengdu, took bribes of 40,000 yuan (US$4,800).
In return, Li, with other officials, shielded the company's crime by helping it escape tariffs and interfering in routine examinations when agents conducted checks.
The first hearing was scheduled to last two days.