Chinese courts announced on Monday, October 12, that two key allies of former security chief Zhou Yongkang, himself sentenced to life in prison in June amid Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign, have been given fines and lengthy prison sentences for accepting bribes. The New York Times’ Michael Forsythe reports:
Jiang Jiemin, the former party official who once ran China’s largest oil and gas company, was sentenced to 16 years after confessing to taking bribes, a court in central China announced. Another court sentenced Li Chuncheng, a former top party official in Sichuan Province in southwestern China, to 13 years for the same offense. Both men were fined 1 million renminbi, or about $158,000.
[…] The downfall of both men served as signals that the Communist Party was investigating Mr. Zhou, a former member of the party’s elite Politburo Standing Committee and the most senior individual to be tried for corruption in the 66-year history of the People’s Republic. Both men acted under Mr. Zhou’s orders to illegally give assistance to other people, causing the state to lose $235.6 million, according to the court judgment on Mr. Zhou issued in June. [Source]
The Wall Street Journal’s Brian Spegele and Josh Chin detail the two former official’s connection to Zhou Yongkang and their offenses as described by court statements, characterizing their sentencing as the closing of one chapter of Xi’s anti-corruption drive:
Some years before taking charge of China’s domestic security operations, Mr. Zhou was chairman of China National Petroleum Corp.—the company later headed by Mr. Jiang—and investigations into his allies marked the first step in a continuing investigation of China’s vast, state-controlled oil industry. CNPC, the country’s biggest oil company by volume, holds sway over energy policy, and top CNPC officials regularly go on to serve as senior political leaders.
[…] Mr. Jiang, who led CNPC and its listed subsidiary, PetroChina Co., through a period of rapid growth, was convicted of bribery after a Chinese court in Hubei province found he amassed more than 14 million yuan ($2.2 million) in assets whose origin couldn’t be accounted for.
[…] Mr. Li was the first high-ranking official to fall in the anticorruption drive. Like Mr. Jiang, Mr. Li worked for a time under Mr. Zhou, who served as party chief of Sichuan from 1999 to 2002. The court statement didn’t mention Mr. Zhou by name.
The statement said Mr. Li had taken bribes totaling 39.8 million yuan while holding various posts between 1999 and 2012. By using his position to aid associates’ business interests, he also caused the loss of more than 572 million yuan in public assets, the statement said. It added that Mr. Li confessed, expressed regret over his crimes and returned the bribes, and that he was given a lighter sentence as a result. [Source]
Several officials with connections to state run oil firms have fallen amid Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. In March, former China National Petroleum Corp. officials and Zhou allies Wang Yongchun and Guo Yongxiang were charged with corruption. In April, an investigation into Wang Tianpu, president of CNPC rival Sinopec, was launched; earlier this month an investigation into former top Sinopec executive Su Shulin was announced.
Updated at 10:15 PDT on October 13, 2015: Former deputy general manager of CNPC Wang Yongchun and deputy governor of Sichuan province Guo Yongxiang have been sentenced to 20 years by separate courts. Both men were close allies of former security chief Zhou Yongkang. Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard report for Reuters:
A court in central China on Tuesday jailed a former senior Chinese energy executive for 20 years on corruption charges, the latest official to fall in a sweeping anti-graft campaign linked to allies of disgraced security chief Zhou Yongkang.
[…] Wang Yongchun was a deputy general manager at China’s biggest oil company, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) [CNPET.UL], until he became caught up in a graft probe last year.
[…] “The property of defendant Wang Yongchun and his family obviously exceeded legal income, and the source of $42.5 million yuan ($6.7 million) in assets could not be explained,” the Xiangyang city Intermediate Court in Hubei province said in a statement.
[…] Another Zhou aide from Sichuan, Guo Yongxiang, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday in a separate Hubei court for bribery and other crimes. [Source]
Reuters also reports that the bribery trial of Ji Wenlin, former vice governor of Hainan and another close associate of Zhou Yongkang, began today.