Beijing extends blacklist of graft offenders

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 September, 2009, 12:00am

The Supreme People's Procuratorate has widened its national blacklist of people and companies convicted of bribery from those in five economic sectors to complete coverage.

The move is aimed at fixing loopholes in the mainland's corruption-prone market system.

The blacklist, which has been compiled for the last three years, had, until it was extended on September 1, recorded bribery convictions only against people and companies in the construction, finance, medical care, education and government procurement sectors, the People's Daily reported yesterday.

The amendment was intended to up the ante in the war against graft and sound a warning bell to potential bribe-givers, it said.

Ren Jianmin, a professor of law at Tsinghua University said the move was a step forward in addressing rampant corruption. 'With a larger scope, officials who have been caught trying to pay for a promotion could now be added to this blacklist,' Ren said.

'This could serve as a strong warning to other officials who plan to try the same strategy.'

However, Ren said the amendment failed to address the other side of the issue - the taking of bribes. 'In many cases, bribe-receivers hint or even ask for bribes, but obviously the procuratorate does not want to tackle the issue at this time,' Ren said.

The supreme procuratorate, the country's top prosecutor, began the blacklist in 2006 and allowed the public access to the data.

Statistics on the procuratorate website show that there had been 57,311 inquiries involving 60,505 companies or government units and 48,741 people up to May 25.

Xinhua reported that, on the first day of the system's formal operation, the database received a request from an overseas medical group wanting to know if the general manager of a local medical equipment company, surnamed Wang, had a record of taking bribes.

The records showed that Wang accepted bribes worth 430,000 yuan (HK$488,000) between December 2003 and April 2005. On November 15, 2005, Wang was sentenced to three years behind bars with a four-year reprieve.

The foreign group suspended co-operation with Wang's company and the top prosecutor cited the case as a rationale for anti-corruption campaigns.

The Procuratorial Daily, the official newspaper of the procuratorate, reported that the database had helped a Shanghai businessman avoid dealing with several companies involved in bribery in 2007.

Ren said that, despite those cases that had been helpful in averting corruption, there was no legal compulsion for people to use the database.

'It's totally on a voluntary basis,' Ren said. 'If you want to check the database and your targets happen to be there, then you can benefit from the system.

'But if you don't check the system before negotiating deals, nobody is going to order you to do the background checking.'

The mainland has had a market-based economy for three decades but the country's credit-checking system is still fragmented and inadequate.

Beijing's banking, securities and tax administrators have their own credit-checking systems, but each focuses exclusively on its own area.

Ren suggested that the central government integrate the country's credit-checking system into a larger database and impose strict background-checking requirements on all business or government-related activity.