• China official tried for graft


    BEIJING: China’s former state assets chief Jiang Jiemin — an ally of ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang — was tried for corruption Monday, one of the highest-ranking figures to fall in the country’s much-publicised anti-graft drive.

    Jiang appeared at the Hanjiang Intermediate People’s Court in the central province of Hubei, it said on its Sina Weibo microblog.

    He is accused of bribery and abuse of power, the court said, adding that Jiang allegedly possessed “a huge amount of assets of unknown origin”.

    The hearing was completed on Monday afternoon and the judges “will select a date to announce its decision after deliberating in accordance with the law”, it added.

    Chinese courts are closely controlled by the ruling party and a guilty verdict is effectively a certainty.

    Jiang worked for decades in China’s petroleum industry and rose to become chairman of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the country’s biggest oil producer.

    He has links going back to the 1980s with Zhou Yongkang, a former CNPC chief himself who went on to become China’s hugely powerful internal security chief but was charged with bribery and abuse of power this month.

    Photos posted by the court showed a stern-faced Jiang standing in the courtroom, clad in a dark blue jacket and with police officers towering over him on either side.

    Jiang did not speak in court and did not object to any of the charges, the court said.

    Prosecutors accused Jiang of “seeking profit in exchange for approving projects and granting promotions”, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

    They pointed to 14 instances where Jiang “solicited or illegally accepted money and goods either directly or through his wife,” Xinhua said.

    “Prosecutors pointed out that as of August 31, 2013, Jiang Jiemin’s personal and family assets and expenses clearly exceeded his and his family’s lawfully-earned income, and Jiang was unable to explain the source of the huge sum accounting for the difference,” Xinhua reported.

    Neither Xinhua nor the court immediately provided further details.

    Jiang was tapped in March 2013 to run the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which oversees China’s many powerful state-owned enterprises.

    But less than six months later, the ruling Communist Party’s internal watchdog announced that it was probing him for alleged “serious disciplinary violations,” a euphemism for official corruption.

    According to state-run media, the move marked the first investigation of a member of the party’s powerful Central Committee, which has about 200 members.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took office two years ago, has vowed to oust corrupt officials all the way from low-level “flies” to high-ranking “tigers” amid fears graft could threaten the party’s hold on power.

    Zhou and a host of his allies have been detained and stripped of their party membership since 2013, amid official media allegations of an “oil faction” in the party.

    Among them is former CNPC vice president Wang Yongchun, who was Zhou’s assistant when he worked at the major Chinese oilfield of Daqing.

    Another top CNPC executive, general manager Liao Yongyuan, was placed under investigation last month.

    But critics note that China has failed to implement institutional safeguards against graft, such as public asset disclosure, an independent judiciary, and free media, leaving the effort open to being used for political faction-fighting.

    The government has also stifled independent anti-corruption initiatives, jailing dozens of activists who had been involved in small-scale protests calling for government officials to disclose their financial assets.



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