BEIJING: A former top Chinese economic planning official went on trial on Wednesday for taking bribes worth nearly $6 million, the latest episode in the country’s much-publicised anti-corruption campaign.
Liu Tienan, the former deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, was indicted for taking 35.58 million yuan ($5.8 million) in bribes, said a statement posted by the Langfang Intermediate People’s Court in the northern province of Hebei.
Prosecutors called for penalties that could see Liu jailed for life, according to the statement on the court’s verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
The account showed a photo of Liu, clad in a black jacket and standing stiffly in court on Wednesday flanked by two uniformed court police officers.
Taking advantage of his position, Liu took bribes from various business people in exchange for benefits such as project approvals and help in securing car dealerships, the statement said.
The bribes were taken as cash, and gifts for his son — including a villa in Beijing and a Porsche — and in other forms such as a job created for the son, according to the statement.
The court updates trial proceedings on the account. According to one of the postings, Liu pleaded for leniency, arguing that he contributed to the anti-graft drive by “drawing on his personal experiences” to compile suggestions on how to prevent corruption.
The government should delegate the power to approve projects and let the market make its own decisions, the posting cited Liu as saying.
It added that he confessed to investigators he had received bribes worth nearly 19 million yuan of which authorities were initially unaware.
It was unclear how that would affect his case. Chinese courts often show some leniency to officials who reveal previously unknown information.
Allegations against Liu surfaced in 2012 when a journalist at investigative magazine Caijing accused him of fraud, graft and sending death threats.
He was placed under investigation last year and expelled from the ruling Communist Party.
President Xi Jinping has vowed to root out corrupt officials ranging from high-ranking “tigers” to low-level “flies”, and warned that graft could destroy the party.
Corruption has caused widespread public anger in China and the drive has been widely publicised.
But critics say no systemic reforms have been introduced to combat it, while citizen activists calling for such measures have been jailed on public order offences.
In addition to Liu, other current and former top figures who have been ensnared in the anti-corruption campaign include Jiang Jiemin, who oversaw state-owned firms, and Zhou Yongkang, China’s powerful onetime internal security czar.