Ex-rail chief's crimes detailed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:07pm


The Ministry of Railways reportedly detailed six major crimes allegedly committed by its former minister Liu Zhijun during an internal briefing on Friday.

Liu allegedly committed serious economic crimes (such as taking hefty bribes), kept mistresses, and perpetrated political and moral wrongdoings, financial news magazine Caixin Century Weekly reported on its website yesterday, citing unidentified railway sector insiders.

The ministry's action signals that the graft investigation is nearing its end and that the judiciary process will soon commence.

Most of the allegations were linked to Shanxi businesswoman Ding Shumiao .

Liu allegedly helped Ding win 3 billion yuan (HK$3.7 billion) worth of bids for projects involving the mainland's multitrillion-yuan high-speed railway system.

Liu was also said to be aware of middlemen making substantial illegal gains by helping contractors win such bids. For instance, Ding's company had collected 10 million yuan from railway engineering firms as supposed 'sponsorship' fees for the seventh World Congress on High-Speed Rail, hosted by the Railways Ministry in 2010.

Caixin also said that Liu was accused of receiving bribes - including paintings and pieces of calligraphy - from four other officials. The total value remains unclear.

Liu also stood accused of moral corruption that stems from his alleged 'philandering with a number of women', three of whom Ding introduced to him, Caixin said.

The magazine's report followed those of the state media's last week that suggested Liu would soon face trial for his role in last year's deadly high-speed-train crash in Wenzhou , Zhejiang province.

The reports indicated that the Supreme People's Procuratorate had formally transferred the Wenzhou case to Beijing prosecutors - a procedural step that paves the way for a trial in the capital.

Liu was sacked in February last year for allegedly taking billions of yuan in bribes in exchange for lucrative railway contracts.

As railways minister, Liu presided over the acceleration of the nation's high-speed rail programme in 2008.

In one of the worst accidents in decades, the Wenzhou crash on July 23 of last year killed at least 40 people and injured nearly 200 when a train ploughed into the back of another on an elevated track section.

A State Council investigation laid the bulk of the blame on Liu, even though he had been sacked for graft five months before the crash.

Liu was expelled from the Communist Party in May after its anti-graft watchdog concluded a 15-month investigation into his corruption case.

But how Liu will be sentenced likely depends on the outcome of the political power struggles within Beijing, especially ahead of the once-a-decade leadership shuffle this year, says Pu Zhiqiang , a lawyer in Beijing.

'Whether Liu will face the death penalty depends on a political decision by the central government,' Pu said.

'[That's] in terms of who should take responsibility for the high-speed-rail crash, as well as for the rampant corruption in the railway system, which has gained considerably from the nation's massive investment in infrastructure since 2008.'