Ding Shumiao, accused of collusion with jailed ex-railways minister, charged with bribery

Ding Shumiao and her family is accused of having made billions via ex-railways chief

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 5:07am

Ding Shumiao, a Shanxi businesswoman accused of colluding with former railways chief Liu Zhijun over projects worth 180 billion yuan (HK$226 billion), has been indicted on charges of bribery and illegal business activities, Xinhua reported yesterday.

Ding and her family made nearly 4 billion yuan on contracts for the high-speed railway network because of Liu's help, prosecutors at Liu's trial in June said.

Her case has been referred to Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court, although a trial date has not been set, nor have detailed charges been released.

Ding was detained by authorities in January 2011. Ding's name appeared more than 20 times in court documents from Liu's bribery and abuse of power trial.

Liu was given a suspended death sentence after being found guilty of taking bribes totalling 64 million yuan, including 49 million yuan from Ding between 2008 to 2010.

Ding, 58, started out as an egg vendor in northern Shanxi province in the early 1980s. She struck gold in the late 1990s when she moved into centralised freight train services after she became acquainted with Liu, who was then the railways vice-minister.

Ding built a business empire spanning sectors including railway equipment supplies, film and television production, and hospitality largely via her relationship with Liu.

To keep Liu as an ally, Ding allegedly arranged for a number of women to sleep with him at hotels and luxury entertainment venues between 2003 and 2009. According to earlier state media reports, Ding spent 50 million yuan on a new television adaptation of the Chinese classic The Dream of Red Mansion so Liu could have sex with several of the actresses.

Dr Yan Yu, executive director of Peking University's Government Management and Industry Development Research Institute, said collusion between a top official and a tycoon was a growing trend among corrupt officials. It allowed them "to stack their illegal proceeds in the pocket of somebody else, but it was always at their own disposal whenever they needed," Yan said.

Yan said the murky deals of so many railway projects tied to Ding and Liu highlighted the urgent need for more transparency in the tendering of government-financed projects and how ineffective internal oversight was.

"The key question is that Liu Zhijun was largely free to decide whatever he wanted [regarding these] projects," he said. "An internal oversight department couldn't possibly tell him off as it was under his control."

Ding was held after auditors found that a major state-owned company had paid about 100 million yuan to her daughter, Hou Junxia . Hou was tried along with four other Ding associates in April, for their role as "middlemen" in the bidding process. That verdict is still pending.