China / Government

Official accused of taking $32m in bribes

By Zhang Yi and Zhang Yu (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-30 08:34

A former senior energy official accused of taking nearly 212 million yuan ($32.6 million) in bribes stood trial in an open court on Monday.

Wei Pengyuan, former deputy director of the National Energy Administration's Coal Department, was tried on charges of taking bribes and being unable to account for the source of huge assets disproportionate to his income, according to a court statement.

He appeared at Baoding Intermediate People's Court in Hebei province.

More than 80 people from all walks of life attended the hearing, including Wei's family members and journalists, the court said.

Prosecutors said Wei took bribes of 211.7 million yuan, mainly in cash, between 2000 and last year and was unable to explain the source of his assets of 131 million yuan.

The figures suggest that Wei took bribes of 70,000 yuan each day over the 15 years.

A verdict has yet to be announced.

Wei's case has triggered widespread public attention because the cash stashed at his home is the biggest haul of its kind since the founding of New China in 1949.

According to media reports, 16 cash-counting machines were used at the scene to count the bills, and four of the machines burned out.

Wei was placed under investigation on corruption charges in May last year and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, China's top prosecuting department, handed the case to the People's Procuratorate in Baoding in January.

Wei was deputy director of the Coal Department at China's top energy regulator from 2008 to May last year, and was in charge of coal infrastructure and project approvals.

Last year, a series of cases involving huge amounts of bribes at the National Energy Administration were filed and tried. Liu Tienan, former head of the administration, was sentenced to life imprisonment last December for taking bribes of 35.5 million yuan between 2002 and 2012.

He was the first ministerial-level official to be investigated since the anti-corruption campaign started in late 2012.

Several officials suspected of corruption at the administration are still under investigation. They include Xu Yongsheng, its former deputy head, Wang Jun, head of the New Energy and Renewable Energy Department, and Hao Weiping, former head of the Nuclear Power Department.

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