Railway graft scandal widens as 3 more held

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 June, 2011, 12:00am


Three senior railway officials, one from Jiangxi and the others from Inner Mongolia, are reportedly being investigated over graft allegations, just months after the sacking of former railways minister Liu Zhijun.

Shao Liping , the 57-year-old head of the railway bureau in Jiangxi's provincial capital Nanchang , and Lin Fenqiang , the railway bureau chief in Hohhot, the Inner Mongolian capital, have been placed under investigation, the Caixin Century weekly reported on its website yesterday.

Lin and Hohhot's deputy railway chief, Ma Junfei , were taken away by the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection a week ago while attending a conference in Beijing, The Economic Observer reported on its website.

Mainland media said Shao had allegedly formed links with Liu's younger brother, Liu Zhixiang, when they worked in Wuhan's railway bureau.

Liu Zhixiang was chief of the Hankou railway station before becoming deputy chief of Wuhan's railway bureau. He received a suspended death sentence in 2006 for hiring a hitman to kill a man who had publicly accused him of being corrupt. He was also convicted of embezzlement and accepting bribes totalling more than 30 million yuan (HK$36 million).

State media reported that when Shao was chief of the Wuhan railway bureau he ensured that Liu Zhixiang had a meteoric rise.

The Economic Observer reported that Ma was probably linked to one of the people who bribed Liu Zhijun, Shanxi businesswoman Ding Shumiao . Ding, who was placed under investigation in January, allegedly earned several hundred million yuan in bribes by helping different contractors win bids for projects on the mainland's multi-trillion-yuan high-speed rail system by taking advantage of her close relationship with the minister.

Ding's firm was also selected in 2009 to supply noise barriers to many of the most important high-speed rail lines - including the ones between Wuhan and Guangzhou, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, and Zhengzhou and Xian .

Liu Zhijun was sacked and placed under investigation for 'severe violation of discipline' in February.

An ex-senior Railways Ministry official said this week that the ministry had overstated the speed of its high-speed trains, put speed above safety to claim world records, and covered up operational problems.

Shao was replaced by Guo Zhuxue, general manager of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen railway, and Lin by Yang Yudong, China Railway Express general manager.