Posts Tagged ‘China’s government corruption’

China Moves to Discredit Tycoon’s Claims of Communist Party Corruption

April 21, 2017

BEIJING — China on Friday sought to discredit billionaire businessman Guo Wengui, painting him as a “criminal suspect” whose allegations of corruption within the highest levels of the Communist Party should not be believed.

Guo, a flamboyant property mogul who has held close ties to disgraced former Chinese intelligence official Ma Jian, has courted international attention with his explosive claims, most recently aired during a live television interview with the U.S government-funded Voice of America (VoA) on Wednesday.

 Exiled businessman Guo Wengui. Photo: Handout

China said on Wednesday that Guo was subject to an Interpol “red notice”, a fact Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Friday.

“If you are willing to believe what he said then that’s your business,” Lu said. “We don’t believe it.”

The Chinese government had pressed VoA to cancel the interview ahead of time, including by summoning one of the broadcaster’s Beijing-based correspondents to a meeting on Monday, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The ministry’s comments come amid an apparently concerted damage-limitation effort within China highlighting Guo’s reputation as an unreliable narrator.

A 23-minute video, purportedly of Ma Jian confessing in detail to accepting 60 million yuan ($8.72 million) in bribes from Guo, has circulated on Chinese social media since Wednesday night without being removed by government censors who are often quick to delete politically sensitive posts or unsubstantiated rumors.

The video, which was produced and posted online anonymously, has also been reported on widely by mainland media outlets, all of which are regulated by the government. Reuters was unable to independently verify the veracity of the video.

The widely read Beijing News newspaper, and the respected financial magazine Caixin, also published lengthy investigations into Guo’s business dealings and ties with Ma, a disgraced former state security vice-minister who was first detained in early 2015 and expelled from the Communist Party in December last year.

Guo has said he left China in late 2014 after being tipped off about Ma’s imminent arrest, and has not returned since his company premises were raided amid a heated dispute with state-backed Founder Securities.

Since leaving, he has spent most of his time in the United States.

After laying low for two years, Guo resurfaced in February and has since made wide-ranging but unverified allegations of corruption against several top Communist Party officials – past and present – and their families.

He says the information was obtained from Ma, whom he concedes he held a close relationship with but denies bribing.

At Friday’s Foreign Ministry briefing, Lu rejected suggestions the timing of the Interpol red notice was connected to the airing of the VoA interview.

“Interpol has been around for 100 years and has 190 member states,” he said. “For this kind of international organization we think their actions are solemn.”

(Reporting by Philip Wen and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Russia’s defence minister ‘secretly builds £12 million palace’, say campaigners — “Almost Chinese-Style Government Theft and Corruption”

October 31, 2015

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, left, with Vladimir Putin in Moscow Photo by Grigory Dukor, Reuters

Anti-corruption investigators accuse Sergei Shoigu of trying to hide his ownership of a mansion outside Moscow

By Allison Quinn, Moscow
The Daily Telegraph

Russia’s defence minister has secretly built a lavish £12 million palace outside Moscow, according to anti-corruption campaigners who specialise in exposing the greed of the regime’s elite.

Sergei Shoigu tried to conceal his ownership of the four-storey mansion, built in the style of a Chinese pagoda, according to research published by Alexei Navalny, the head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Photographs of the property were released under the tongue-in-cheek headline “The Most Polite Palace”. This was a reference to the “polite green men” – otherwise known as soldiers sent by Mr Shoigu – who seized the Ukrainian region of Crimea last year.

The defense ministry later adopted this term for its own slogans, including “politeness conquers cities”.

Photographs of the property were released under the tongue-in-cheek headline 'The Most Polite Palace'Photographs of the property were released under the tongue-in-cheek headline ‘The Most Polite Palace’  Photo: Alburov

The pictures show an imposing mansion with tilted roofs, ringed by generous grounds with exotic shrubbery, covering an area of about 9,000 square meters. The property is said to be located in the elite Barvikha estate near Moscow, known for being the home of billionaires and high-ranking officials.

Documents published by campaigners suggest that Mr Shoigu tried to hide his ownership of the palace by registering the property under the name of his daughter, Ksenia. In 2012, the estate was transferred to the formal ownership of one Yelena Antipina, a woman who shares the maiden name of Mr Shoigu’s wife. Campaigners believe she is Mr Shoigu’s sister-in-law.

The property is valued at about £12 million, but the Shoigu family’s total declared income for 2010-2012 was the equivalent of about £1.8 million

Georgy Alburov, the investigator who compiled the evidence, asked where Mr Shoigu could have found the money for such an expensive property. “That’s not a bad question for the Investigative Committee, is it?” he wrote.

Mr Alburov said that he was threatened while trying to conduct his inquiries. When he and his colleagues approached the home of Mr Shoigu’s sister-in-law, they were stopped and threatened by representatives of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, who accused them of plotting a burglary.

“In the police department, they immediately forgot about the ‘burglary’ and started talking about how, as it turns out, we were ‘collecting personal information on the relatives of those who are fighting in Syria to pass on to the Islamic State,’ and they described what would happen to us if we published this. I’m not joking, that’s exactly what they said,” wrote Mr Alburov.

Vladimir Putin and Sergei Shoigu at an ice hockey match in Sochi, RussiaVladimir Putin and Sergei Shoigu at an ice hockey match in Sochi, Russia  Photo: Getty Images

The previous victim of these investigations was Dmitry Peskov, the official spokesman of President Vladimir Putin, who was accused of living in a mansion worth at least £4.7 million.

Russia’s military budget has risen by more than 50 per cent in the last four years, creating immense opportunities for corruption and self-enrichment. The previous defence minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, was sacked in 2012 and formally accused of fraudulently selling military property. Last year, he benefited from an official amnesty and the charges against him were dropped.

Mr Shoigu has not yet responded to the findings of the investigation.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/11963934/Russias-defence-minister-secretly-builds-12-million-palace-say-campaigners.html

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Putin's Russian Mansion

On paper, this mansion in the village of Praskoveyevka, located on the northern coast of Russia’s Black Sea, is owned by Indocopas, a mysterious company without a Web site or even a phone number. The real owner is rumored to be President Vladimir Putin.

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Yanukovych’s house looks architecturally similar to Shoigu’s.

Wen Jiabao, the former Chinese premier whose relatives were accused of amassing a $2.7 billion fortune in 2012, told a Hong Kong columnist: “I want to leave this world clean.”

China: Freedom of the Media Activist Pleads Not Guilty in Chaotic All-Night Trial

November 29, 2014

The Associated Press

A leading Chinese rights activist who organised rallies for media freedom pleaded not guilty to charges of disturbing public order in an all-night trial in which the judge rejected his requests for food, a lawyer said.

The case against Yang Maodong, 48, comes amid a broadening crackdown on dissent. In January, a Beijing court sentenced legal activist Xu Zhiyong to four years in prison for leading a loosely organised civil movement. Several of his followers also were imprisoned.

New York-based Human Rights Watch called on authorities to drop the charges against Yang, better known by his penname Guo Feixiong, and fellow defendant Sun Desheng, who was arrested for urging the Chinese government to grant more rights to its people and to disclose officials’ assets.

Zhang Lei, lawyer for Yang, said on his microblog that the trials Friday against Yang and Sun at Tianhe District Court got off to a tense start when the court several times cut off arguments by the defence. The hearing ended only at 2:50 a.m. Saturday with the judge granting a recess after Yang nearly fainted from hunger. The court had repeatedly rejected earlier requests for food, Sun’s lawyer Chen Jinxue said.

The lawyers said both Yang and Sun had been mistreated in detention. Yang was denied any outdoor break for 469 days, and Sun had his ankles and wrists shackled for a week before the trial, Zhang said.

A court employee declined to confirm the trials, but he said a “special case” was taking place, without further elabouration. Rights lawyers and advocates said security was heavy around the courthouse and stretched as far as three kilometres out.

Yang has advocated for greater political freedom and more civic engagement in China. In January last year, Yang helped organise demonstrations and spoke in support of the editorial staff at the newspaper Southern Weekly in Guangzhou after its journalists said a New Year’s message that called for rule by the constitution was altered because of censorship.

The charge alleges he gathered crowds to disrupt public order, but his supporters say the rallies were orderly.

He also encouraged activists to hold up placards in several cities. To avoid confrontation with police, the activists typically did not linger but left quickly after taking photographs of their acts, then posting the images online. Authorities have found such acts unacceptable, and Chinese courts have actively prosecuted the quick protests.

Sun was not involved with the Southern Weekly rallies, but his charge – the same as Yang’s – stems from his unfurling banners calling for public disclosure of officials’ assets and urging China’s legislature to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Sun’s lawyer Chen Jinxue said.

Covering China: We Often Only Know What The Communist Government Wants Us To Know

December 15, 2013

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The New York Times has invested significantly in its China operations over the last few years Photo: ALAMY

By Dan Bloom

While the New York Times likes to say it runs “all the news that’s fit to print,” getting the news out from their Beijing offices is becoming more and more challenging. China’s propaganda minders see red when they see Western journalists publishing negative news about their “ideal” communist country.

Reporters’ phones are tapped and their e-mails are hacked. It is not easy being a foreign reporter in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) land that looks more and more like a setting from George Orwell’s famous novel 1984. Except it is 2013 and things are not looking good for newspapers like the New York Times.

In a recent article headlined “The Thorny Challenge of Covering China,” the newspaper’s in-house media observer Margaret Sullivan asked a vexing question: “How do major American news organizations write about a communist country with the world’s second-largest economy — a country that doesn’t believe in press rights and that punishes tough-minded coverage?”

She gave US readers four choices: “Aggressively? Cautiously? Fearlessly? Competitively?”

It is true, as the Times noted, that doing business in China, be it news coverage or import/export deals, is lucrative.

The Western media want to be there.

However, it is getting increasingly difficult to report the news from China. Last year, the Times published an article about the enormous wealth of China’s ruling family. The article won a Pulitzer Prize in the US for reporting. As a result, Beijing shuttered the Times’ Web site in China at a cost of about US$3 million in lost revenue, Sullivan said.

File photo: Plaque on the wall outside the New York Times office, Shanghai (2012)
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The New York Times has found it difficult to secure visas for its journalists in China

The other day, Chinese “officials” walked uninvited into the US-based Bloomberg News offices in Shanghai and Beijing to conduct what they said were routine “inspections.” Welcome to the free and open press in China, which the government promised would result from it being awarded the 2008 Summer Olympics. Fat chance.

The New York Times news service, which the Taipei Times subscribes to (as do several major Chinese-language dailies in Taiwan), has 12 reporters inside China with official accreditation from the Chinese government. The New York Times also has a few reporters working in Hong Kong with official press passes.

The New York Times will continue to report all the news it can from China, and hopefully, the paper’s editors and the Bejing propaganda ministry will come to be on better terms. For now, in today’s climate, being a Western reporter inside the Chinese behemoth is indeed a thorny gig.

So, while Chinese authorities have been withholding visas for New York Times reporters in alleged retaliation for earlier news articles about the wealth accumulated by some party leaders’ families, the Western media wait to see what will happen next.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China recently said that none of the correspondents working for the New York Times inside China have been able to renew their residence visas for 2014, noting in a press release: “The authorities have given no public explanation for their actions, leading to the impression that they have been taken in reprisal for reporting that displeased the government.”

When US Vice President Joe Biden met with New York Times journalists working in Beijing during his recent visit, he stood up for freedom of the press and publicly criticized the way the Chinese government has been treating the media.

Vice President Joe Biden inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday, December 4, 2013.  Lintao Zhang / AFP / Getty Images

Biden also reportedly raised the issue directly with Xi.

One wonders at the shocked expression that must have been on Xi’s face when the US vice president raised the subject. A polite smile? A grimace?

Dan Bloom is a writer in Taiwan.

Report: In October, the New York Times revealed Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's family's wealth. A Times correspondent in China, Chris Buckley, has now failed to have his visa renewed

In October 2012, the New York Times revealed that Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (pictured) had family wealth in the billions of dollars. After that, a Times correspondent in China, Chris Buckley, did not have his visa renewed. Many journalists said he was expelled.

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China Arrests Five More in Crackdown of Chinese Social Media, Bloggers, Pro-Democracy Voices

October 22, 2013

Five arrested as part of a crackdown on critical voices in Chinese social media

SHANGHAI |          Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:12am BST

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China has arrested five people on charges of blackmail and spreading false information online, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday, as the government intensifies a campaign to banish rumours.

The Internet, and microblogs, have proven a potent alternative to China’s tightly-censored state media as an outlet for grievances and a way to out corrupt officials.

But analysts say the ruling Communist Party’s relative lack of control makes officials nervous.

Chinese president Xi Jinping said he would institute reforms and transparency

Xinhua said Ge Qiwei, whom it called the leader of the group arrested, had posed as a journalist and tried to blackmail officials with negative information.

“He also fabricated and spread rumours to create trouble, which has severely smeared the image of local governments and disturbed social order,” it added, quoting the prosecutor’s office in the city of Hengyang in south-central Hunan province.

Hundreds of people have been detained in China since August, say Chinese media and rights groups, as the government has stepped up efforts to rein in online rumours. Most have been released, but some are still being held on criminal charges.

Xinhua said Ge, originally named Zhou Bo, had confessed and wrote, “The irresponsible spread of information has brought extreme negative effects to society.”

Ge’s targets were spread across the public and private sectors in more than 10 provinces and cities and the cases involved millions of yuan, it said, quoting the Hengyang procuratorate.

Ge, 29, was detained in late August.

(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)