Hangzhou EPA Officials Domino – China Jiangsu Online
Pan Jun, former head of Hangzhou City’s Environmental Protection Science Institute, has had a successful political career in recent years, largely thanks to his business savvy. And he obviously knew the rules. “Illegitimate activities and bribery in environmental protection business are the ‘tumors’ that tarnish the environmental protection system and hamper the healthy development of this industry,” he told an Institute meeting in March 2006, sounding a clear alarm against corruption.
Two months later, Pan was arrested, for the same crime he himself had just recently preached against. Brought down with him are 90 EPA officials in the city. And it was Pan’s own creation, the environmental assessment cooperation fee, that planted the seed for this serial corruption case. The domino effect swept through 11 of Hangzhou’s 13 districts or counties.
Before Pan took over the reins at the environmental institute, the agency’s annual revenue was only over two million yuan. Then the rule of the game was, the institute would pay 10-20% of the value of an environmental impact assessment project to the “broker,” usually the city’s or a district environmental protection agency.
New to his job, he had ambitions to improve the economics, and bumped the kickback to 30%, renaming it an “environmental impact assessment project cooperation fee.” And most of these transactions would be forked over to local EPAs through cash payments, bank wirings or salaries.
Soon, his “new deal” brought in a lot of business. By 2005, his agency’s revenue topped 24 million, among which more than seven million was the so-called “cooperation fee.” His political career once looked so bright that rumors had it that he would become a deputy director at the city’s EPA.
The game of kickbacks caught the attention of the city’s EPA officials, and it became so prevalent that employees of most local EPAs compete against one another on the derived welfare or benefits from the kickbacks or briberies. An official with the city EPA’s discipline department admitted learning about the problem a while ago, but said they had no specific solution.
And in this context, many other forms of bribery also emerged. In 2002, the city decided to open a public bid to recycle over 3,000 tons of used cooking oil a year. An entrepreneur eyed the opportunity and bought up an all-out support from Sun Bo (Â≠ôÊ≥¢), who was in charge of pollutant control in the city’s EPA. The price was 27,000 yuan in cash and a Samsung cell phone worth 4,000 yuan. And this company, with the help of the EPA official, won the exclusive right to recycle the used oil. Follow-up bribes, 10,000 yuan a quarter, became regular extra income for various districts where the company has business. [Full Text in Chinese]