‘Sex-Tape Official’ Lei Zhengfu Sentenced to Jail

After his trial began last week, Lei Zhengfu, the former party secretary of Chongqing’s Beibei district who was removed from office after a sex-tape leaked and went viral, has been sentenced to hefty fines and 13 years in jail for bribery. Xinhua reports:

A former official embroiled in a sex video scandal was sentenced to 13 years in jail for bribery on Friday in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality.

Lei Zhengfu, former secretary of Chongqing’s Beibei District Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), was also fined 300,000 yuan (48,554 U.S. dollars), according to the Chongqing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court’s ruling.

[...]Lei asked a businessman surnamed Ming for 3 million yuan in February 2008 after being blackmailed by Xiao Ye, a man who conspired with others to lure officials into having sex with women and secretly recorded their trysts in order to blackmail them.

[...]Lei also received 10,000 U.S. dollars and a watch from a businessman surnamed Yin at the cost of securing support funds for Yin’s company in July 2011, although Lei later surrendered the watch to the office of the Beibei District Committee of the CPC, the statement said.

At the beginning of 2012, Lei helped a doctor surnamed Fan obtain a promotion at a hospital in Chongqing, with Lei’s wife receiving 100,000 yuan from Fan later with Lei’s permission, the court said. [Source]

But Lei did not go down alone. Another Xinhua report details the sentences handed out at a separate Chongqing trial to those involved in blackmailing Lei and other officials:

Xiao Ye, Xu Sheqing, Yan Peng, Wang Jianjun, Zhao Hongxia and Tan Linling were charged with extortion and stood trial on June 20.

[...]Xiao and Xu, who had conspired to lure officials into having sex with women and secretly recorded their encounters in order to blackmail them and to gain profits for their business, were sentenced to ten years and four years respectively, according to a Yubei district people’s court ruling.

Yan and Wang, accomplices of Xiao, were sentenced to 3.5 years and 1.5 years with a 1.5-year-reprieve respectively, according to the ruling.

[...]Zhao, who was recorded having sex with Lei, was given a jail term of two years with a two-year reprieve. [Source]

In a report outlining Lei’s case and the web of graft surrounding it, The Wall Street Journal surveys online reaction to the recent sentences:

“Twelve seconds in bed, one year for each second – and then they added a year!” one user of the Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging service wrote of Mr. Lei’s sentence, one of hundreds of comments that took aim at the official’s famously truncated performance in the video.

[...]To be sure, some sought to cast Mr. Lei as a sacrificial lamb on Friday, dismissing the 3 million yuan he solicited from a businessman to pay off his blackmailers as a drop in the country’s  vast ocean of illicit transactions.

[...]“This is justice,” wrote one Sina Weibo user. Others joked that the official, who claimed in court to still be in a relationship with Ms. Zhao (in Chinese), would be heartbroken to have to spend so long apart from the woman.

Many were also pleased to learn that there would be no jail time for Ms. Zhao, who has been hailed by some as an anticorruption warrior. [Source]

The sentencing of former-secretary Lei Zhengfu comes in the midst of president Xi Jinping’s ongoing pledge to fight corruption among the Party’s “tigers and flies”—or high- and low-level officials, a vow that Xi pointedly renewed at a meeting of senior officials earlier this week. Zhu Ruifeng, the muckraker responsible for exposing the sex-tape, feels that Xi’s campaign is coming up short in stamping out corruption in Party seniority. From the New York Times:

[...]Before his dismissal in November, Mr. Lei was party secretary of Beibei, a district of Chongqing. Critics said the spectacle of his trial did not make up for Mr. Xi’s failure so far to take down senior officials, despite widespread speculation about corruption investigations in the government and military involving powerful figures and large amounts of money.

“Lei Zhengfu was not a high-level official,” Zhu Ruifeng, the muckraking blogger who first publicized the lurid images of Mr. Lei, said in a telephone interview from Beijing. “I don’t see much hope of the party and government really taking on corruption. Each generation of leaders vows to do that, but the results are plain to see. We don’t hold much hope.” [Source]

Also see prior CDT coverage of corrupt officials and anti-corruption campaigns.