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Crook uses bribes to fuel dirty coal business
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-17 11:17

Money makes the mare go.

Li Jianming, a 28-year-old coal businessman, knows that saying well.

Li, who was engaged in the coal industry for seven years, used money to pave the way for his polluting high-sulphur coal, which is banned in Beijing, entering into the capital city's market easily.

Li is now held by the procuratorate of Beijing's Yanqing County in custody for bribery, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Li said he plunged almost half of all his profits in offering bribes to build a protective umbrella for his business, says the report.

A preliminary investigation shows that at least two government officials and three senior cadres of two large State-owned heating power companies in Beijing were found to have accepted bribes from Li.

Although the total amount of the bribes is not available, Li has confessed that he once gave Zhao Kuiyu, head of the Blue Sky Heating Company, 1 million yuan (US$120,000).

Zhao's company is in charge of providing heating to the households in the community of Wangjing, one of the largest residential areas in Beijing, and needs around 3.5 million tons of coal annually.

Money made Li become the sole coal supplier to the Blue Sky Heating Company, and also a major supplier to the Beichen Heating Power Plant. Both companies are large-scale, State-owned firms.

The corruption network also includes two government officials with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision who are in charge of checking the quality of coal.

The coal sold by Li had high sulphur content, but it could easily pass government checks as low-sulphur coal, which costs twice as much.

"Whether a batch of coal can pass examinations or not is decided by the small shovels used to take samples. The shovels have no eyes, but the people have," one of the two officials named Sun Jiyong was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Sun said they informed Li ahead of examinations where they would choose samples from a truck. Li thus put some low-sulphur coal at the designated places for testing.

Li's government umbrella also protected him from an examination on coal quality that was jointly launched by several government department last winter.

The two officials said several days ahead of the action, they gave Li detailed information and helped him make preparations.

Guo Junqing, head of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Qality and Technical Supervision, was quoted by the Beijing Times as saying that Li's case sounds an alarm to the management of his bureau and pledged to make efforts to enhance the supervision on coal quality.

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