Former senior official held in graft probe

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am

A former senior official at the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe) was taken away by graft investigators in Beijing last Friday for alleged corruption linked to several other disgraced senior officials, according to a mainland magazine report.

The financial fortnightly Caijing Magazine quoted sources close to the investigation as claiming that former Safe general affairs department head Zou Lin, 42, had taken bribes while he was director of the administration's capital project investment division.

He had held the job for four years before being transferred last year.

Mr Zou is the latest official allegedly involved in the Guo Jingyi corruption scandals that have implicated several other high-ranking officials from different ministries, according to the report.

Mr Guo, the former deputy administrator of the Ministry of Commerce's treaty and law department, was put under shuanggui, a form of party investigation, in August for allegedly taking bribes and seeking profits for businesses.

He reportedly added clauses beneficial to those businesses in draft regulations and collaborated with other officials in approval procedures.

Other figures to have been detained or arrested over Mr Guo's case include Xu Mangang, head of Safe's supervision and inspection department, Deng Zhan, a retired deputy administrator of the commerce ministry's foreign investment department, Liu Wei, a deputy chief of foreign investment registration at the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, and Du Baozhong, also a senior official at the commerce ministry's treaty and law department.

The suspects are believed to have known and co-operated with each other when they were arbitrators at the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission.

Mainland media claimed the officials took bribes from some lawyers working on behalf of foreign investors to obtain regulatory approval for acquisition filings.

Acquisitions require approval from several agencies, of which the Ministry of Commerce is the most important. Critical decisions are made in the ministry's foreign investment and treaty and law departments, where Mr Deng and Mr Guo served.

On the mainland, foreign investors must seek approval from the commerce ministry for any deal valued at more than US$50 million if it involves investment in a sector that Beijing defines as a 'restricted industry'.

Mr Zou had already been sacked by Safe because of the investigation. He graduated in 1988 with a degree in economic law from Xiamen University and was once thought of as a rising star in Safe.

During his time at Safe, Mr Zou was in charge of drafting and amending regulations in several areas, including yuan and foreign currency management.

The report said other Safe officials were linked to Mr Zou's corruption case but were not prosecuted because they had returned bribe money.