China has sentenced the former Communist Party boss from the southwestern province of Yunnan to death with a two-year reprieve for bribery, the latest official to fall in President Xi Jinping’s sweeping war on graft.
Bai Enpei, 70, abused his posts, including as party chief in Yunnan until 2011 and earlier as the top official in the western province of Qinghai, illegally amassing more than 247 million yuan ($37 million) in assets, a court said.
“The amount of bribes Bai Enpei accepted was huge, the details of his crimes extremely serious, and their social impact especially pernicious,” the Anyang city intermediate court in the central province of Henan said on its official microblog.
The court decided on the death sentence with reprieve, which typically amounts to life in prison, because Bai had admitted to his crimes and expressed regret, and because the illicit assets were recovered in full, it said.
Bai went on trial in June, but the court statement gave few other details of his case. He could not be reached for comment.
Courts are controlled by the party and do not challenge party accusations, especially in corruption cases.
China is in the midst of a crackdown on graft launched by Xi after he assumed power almost four years ago, warning the problem was so serious it threatened the party’s survival.
Dozens of senior officials have been jailed in the campaign, including former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Stephen Coates)
Former senior official confesses to corruption in China
Updated: 2016-06-17 08:16
By Zhang Yi (China Daily USA)
Bai Enpei, a former senior official with China’s top legislature, admitted to corruption charges during a court trial on Thursday.
Bai, formerly deputy head of the Environment and Resources Protection Committee of the National People’s Congress, pleaded no contest to charges of illegally gaining nearly 250 million yuan ($38 million) and the accusation that his family’s expenditure was far greater than its income, according to a statement by Anyang Intermediate People’s Court in Henan province, where a public hearing was held on Thursday.
The 69-year-old was the top official in Qinghai province from 1999 to 2001 and the top official in Yunnan province from 2001 to 2011, before he took the senior post at the NPC.
According to the prosecution, Bai used these positions to benefit 17 companies and individuals in engineering construction, real estate development, mining franchises and job promotions.
The people’s procuratorate in Anyang, Henan province, accused him of bribery and unexplained sources of a large sum of income.
Bai accepted the charges and showed repentance.
China — Bai Enpei, a former senior legislator, stands trial on corruption charges, in Anyang, Henan province
More than 60 people, including his relatives, members of the public and journalists, were present at the open trial.
The court said its ruling will be announced at a later date.
Yunnan has the largest reserves of aluminum, lead, tin and zinc in China, and Bai, as former Party chief, the highest political position in the province, is reported to have illegally distributed these resources.
Under-the-table sales of a lead and zinc mine in Lanping, in the northwest of the province, and a tin mine in Dulong in the same area were uncovered after a tip-off about the deals was given to anti-graft authorities.
In early 2000, Liu Han, a mining tycoon and chairman of the energy conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group, is said to have had his eye on the Lanping mine. Bai allegedly abused his power to sell shares in Lanping to Liu.
In a series of complex transactions Liu obtained a 51 percent share in the lead and zinc mine in Lanping for just 153 million yuan in 2003.
The mine was assessed to have a value of more than 100 billion yuan, according to a news report in Caijing Magazine.
Liu was sentenced to death in May 2014, and executed in February last year.
Kunming party chief falls to corruption probe — In office less than 8 months
It’s official: there is no government posting more inauspicious than that of Kunming Communist Party Secretary.
On April 10, the Yunnan discipline inspection commission announced that current Kunming party chief Gao Jinsong (高劲松) is being investigated for “serious violations of party discipline and law,” official jargon for corruption. He had served as the Yunnan provincial capital’s party chief for less than eight months.
Gao, 51, is the third consecutive Kunming party chief to have fallen victim to President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. His predecessor, Zhang Tianxin (张田欣) was forced to step down in July 2014 and Qiu He (仇和), who held the post from 2011-2014 was investigated just last month.
Before assuming his post in Kunming, Gao Jinsong was the Communist Party secretary of Yunnan’s Qujing prefecture from 2012 to 2014. Along with Kunming party secretary, Gao was also party secretary of the city’s garrison command. He was not, however a member of Yunnan’s standing committee, the top level of party leadership in the province.
According to a report by Caixin, Gao’s investigation is linked to the case against Bai Enpei (白恩培). The former Yunnan provincial party secretary, Bai was investigated for corruption and in August 2014. Gao reportedly gave Bai Enpei millions of yuan in bribes. “Bai and his wife confessed … regarding the bribes they took, which implicated many officials currently in office,” Caixin cited an anonymous Yunnan official as saying.
Gao’s investigation marks a new direction for the current anti-corruption drive. When Gao was announced as the replacement for the disgraced Zhang Tianxin in August 2014, many locals thought him to be a safe choice. It was assumed that the central government had properly vetted him and that his term as party secretary would last longer than eight months. It’s obvious now that something went wrong.
It is certainly possible that Gao’s investigation is directly related to the Bai Enpei case. However, the investigations and court proceedings in official corruption cases are done behind closed doors, the details of which are only released through state-run media.
Indeed, it would make sense that Gao Jinsong had corrupt dealings with Bai Enpei. Bai, who was the provincial secretary from 2001 to 2011, was a kingmaker of Yunnan’s party leadership and Gao’s political rise coincided with Bai’s tenure.
Regardless of the exact details of Gao’s case, what is becoming clearer with each disgraced official is that the central government is displeased with Yunnan. It is a troubling new face of the province’s relationship with Beijing.
In the early 2000’s provincial leaders took pride in their appointment to serve as China’s chief representatives for carrying out the country’s economic policies and cooperation initiatives with neighboring Southeast Asia. Now the Yunnan provincial leadership’s role is tarnished and uncertain.
In an action plan for China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative revealed last month at the Bo’ao Forum, Yunnan province was not listed as a key province despite its geographic significance in the current and future development of the South Silk Road. Furthermore, the future of Luosiwan International Trade City, which acts as a logistics hub for all Chinese goods travelling overland into Southeast Asia, is surrounded by uncertainty after its owner, Liu Weigao, was arrested for corruption earlier this year.
In the past thirteen months, the entire Communist Party leadership of Yunnan has fallen one by one to charges of corruption. That the man chosen to replace one of these fallen leaders has now been investigated himself for graft only reinforces the notion that something is wrong in Yunnan’s politics. Is it that the profits from province’s tin and copper mines are too tempting for these top officials? Is it their connections to the disgraced security czar Zhou Yongkang and his Sichuan-based clique? Or is it something else?
Whatever the reason, Yunnan’s relationship with the center is clearly troubled with no solution in sight. Those next in line for the province’s party leadership will be desperate to find one; their role in China’s development in Southeast Asia depends on it.
Sources in Beijing say Yunnan is “too far from Beijing” and easily tempted into lucrative deals with Vietnam and Myanmar that enrich many — but since they do not enrich Beijing there are continuing problems….
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