Work safety official accepted $40,000 'gift' from mine boss

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 June, 2006, 12:00am

A former senior Guangdong work safety official yesterday admitted in court that he received $40,000 from the chairman of the Daxing Colliery in Meizhou, where 121 miners died last year, but rejected charges of bribery and dereliction of duty.

After the charges against him were read, Hu Jianchang told the packed Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court: 'The dereliction of duty charge has no factual basis. The second part of the corruption charge is also not realistic.

'The production safety permit was issued in accordance with procedures. I fulfilled my responsibility. I had told my subordinates not to send me any documents that did not meet requirements.'

He told the court that the Economic and Trade Commission issued another mining safety certificate to the Daxing Colliery and four other mines, but he had not been aware of them.

'When I found out, I suggested Economic and Trade Commission Vice-Director Chen Jianhui either withdraw the certificates or strengthen supervision of the mines,' Hu said.

Hu is also accused of receiving $10,000 on four occasions between 2003 and last year from mine chairman Zeng Yungao, and accepting a 25 per cent share in a consultancy company plus dividends amounting to 100,000 yuan.

'Zeng did not ask me for help and I did not help him, so I regard the $40,000 as a gift between friends,' he said.

As for the stake in the company, which offers safety evaluation services, Hu said it was in his wife's name and was 'a matter between my wife and the company'.

His lawyer, Chen Qingyuan, said he expected the court to take two months to hand down its verdict.

Three other former safety bureau officials - Tan Junwei, Ye Aiqian, and Wang Zhengcheng - were tried on similar charges in another court in mid-May and were expected to be sentenced at the same time. If convicted, all four face prison terms of up to three years.

Zeng and 17 mine staff and investors will go on trial in the Xingning People's Court on Monday.

As the court adjourned for lunch yesterday, local reporters were told that Guangdong propaganda authorities had given instructions not to report on the hearing.

The colliery, in Xingning - Governor Huang Huahua's home town - flooded on August 7, killing the 121 miners. The mine had defied Meizhou government orders to close the previous month.