Shanxi coal chief fired as graft probe launched

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 December, 2011, 12:00am

Shanxi's provincial government has sacked the head of China's biggest coking coal company after the arrest of two robbers who stole more than 50 million yuan (HK$61 million) worth of cash and valuables from his home last month.

Shanxi Coking Coal chairman Bai Peizhong was officially denounced at a senior management meeting at the company's Taiyuan headquarters on Wednesday, Xinhua reported. He would be investigated for suspected corruption by the Communist Party's provincial discipline inspection commission.

Ren Fuyao, chairman of Yangquan Coal Industry, will replace Bai, overseeing the excavation of more than 100 million tonnes of coal a year and the production of 10 million tonnes of coke.

An anonymous Taiyuan police officer sent an e-mail to the Guangzhou-based New Express newspaper early this month describing the robbery that led to Bai's arrest.

The robbers were two security guards at Bai's residential compound. While on duty, they often helped Bai's guests carry boxes to his palace-like, 400 square metre flat.

The packages were mostly labelled as ordinary items such as tea and moon cakes, but they were very heavy, arousing the guards' suspicions. They broke into Bai's home at the end of last month, threatened his wife and got access to the safe.

They took more than 6 million yuan, Euro3 million (HK$30 million) and HK$1 million in cash, seven kg of gold bars and several watches and pieces of jewellery left in Bai's wife's car.

Believing all the items were the proceeds of corruption and that their victims would not dare to report the case, the robbers did not bother to change their car's plates or hide their identities. But Bai's wife did report the loss of 3 million yuan to police.

An officer at the bureau's economic crime investigation department said this week that Bai's case had been taken from their hands.

'It is obviously too big for us to manage,' he said.

Bai, 49, became deputy major of Xinzhou in 2006, in charge of coal production and heavy industry development. He was appointed the group's chairman in 2008.