Corrupt boss of mainland precious metals firm sentenced to death

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 4:52am

The former head of a precious metals refinery - held out by party leaders as an example of the corruption crisis in state-owned enterprises - has been sentenced to death for stealing more than 85 million yuan (HK$105 million).

Song Wendai, the disgraced chairman and general manager of the Qiankun gold and silver refinery in Inner Mongolia , was convicted by Bayannur Intermediate Court on Monday for misappropriating some 65 million yuan in company property, including hundreds of kilograms of gold and silver, Xinhua reported.

He was also found to have embezzled more than 21 million yuan in company funds. The court seized all of his personal property, including 2.7 million yuan in cash, 134kg of gold, 995kg of silver, four flats and four cars.

Song told the court that he would appeal against the verdict.

The harsh sentence came as little surprise as Song's case was cited in a June article by Communist Party anti-graft chief He Guoqiang in the party journal Qiushi , or "Seeking Truth", to illustrate the urgent need for a crackdown on corruption.

Mainland media had earlier reported that the stolen gold was recovered from the boot of an abandoned car at an underground car park in Beijing.

Before joining Qiankun in 2002, Song had been an administrative official at Inner Mongolia's high court. His government connections helped him survive despite frequent allegations of corruption by whistle-blowers over the past decade, The Southern Metropolis News reported.

The court said Song had abused his position to obtain more than five million shares from the company at an unreasonably low price, pocketing more than 10 million yuan profit.

He was found to have used 10 million yuan embezzled from one public fund in 2002-03 to set up his own company. He then, over the next few years, illegally sold a company gold mine to his own private company, claiming the 25 million yuan in profit.

From 2000 to 2010, he also pocketed 17 million yuan in rents from the refinery. He carried off the 12 million yuan in gold between 2005 and 2006.