Hainan trade zone's 'rising star' admits graft

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2012, 12:00am

A former senior official with an economic development zone in Hainan province, who had been a rising star at just 32 years old, recently pleaded guilty in a local court to taking 16 million yuan (HK$19.7 million) in bribes, a report said yesterday.

Xiao Minghui - who was deputy director of the planning, construction and land bureau overseeing the state-run Hainan Yangpu Economic Development Zone - appeared before Hainan's No 2 Intermediate People's Court, but no sentence has been handed down, the Legal Daily newspaper said.

Xiao joined the bureau in 2006 after obtaining a master's degree from the prestigious Tsinghua University's department of civil engineering.

He started as a construction project manager and worked on numerous government-sponsored building projects in the zone.

Xiao won the 'Excellent Youth' award from the economic development zone authority in 2007, and was named among the province's top 10 young people in 2008.

In late 2007, he was assigned to head a new office handling an 800 million yuan project to build homes and other infrastructure for relocated residents in the zone area.

Prosecutors said Xiao colluded with a driver hired by the zone, and that they took bribes from construction firms in exchange for contracts.

The driver, identified only as Zhang, asked a friend to help seek out the construction companies. One of these was a state-owned conglomerate that sent a representative to meet the friend in early 2008 and agreed to pay a kickback worth around 5 per cent of its 500 million yuan bid, if it was awarded the deal.

The trio agreed that Xiao would receive 60 per cent of the kickback, while the other two would each receive 20 per cent.

As a member of the bid-assessment panel, Xiao ensured that the company won the contract.

The remaining 300 million yuan in the project budget went to other, undisclosed projects.

Prosecutors also found that Zhang set up shell companies in Haikou city and Tunchang county between 2009 and last year to launder the money.

By the time Xiao was arrested in August, the company had paid a total of 21 million yuan in kickbacks.

Prosecutors also said Xiao took bribes totalling 50,000 yuan in 2007 from a man in exchange for helping him secure demolition work at a primary school.

Xiao reportedly broke down in tears in court, saying he felt sorry for his family, including his two children - a toddler and three- month-old baby.

21m yuan

The total value of bribes paid by an unnamed state-owned conglomerate to Xiao Minghui and his accomplices