China upholds life sentence for corrupt former official
Ex-financial manager in Guangdong took bribes and had stash of firearms
The Higher People’s Court of Guangdong upheld the life sentence given to a retired provincial-level official for corruption and illegally holding firearms, the Guangzhou-based Information Times reported.
Li Ruohong, the former deputy director of the Guangdong Financial Affairs Office, had been sentenced to life imprisonment by the intermediate people’s court in Shaoguan city in November last year.
According to the court, Li, 62, took bribes between 1998 and 2006 totalling more than 50 million yuan (US$7 million) from local property developers and businessmen, including cash and several properties, the report said. The value of the properties has since risen greatly in Guangdong’s red-hot market.
Li was taken away by the party for “serious violations of discipline” in September 2014. During the ensuing investigation, a number of firearms and some ammunition were found at a residence Li shared with his mistress, Lu Xiaoling. Li’s two brothers and Lu were also sentenced to between 6 and 11 years in prison for taking bribes.
None of the official information revealed how or why Li had obtained the weapons.
China bans the manufacture and sale of guns in order to control violent crime. Private citizens are not allowed to own firearms, and a person can face life imprisonment if convicted of illegally owning one.
Li retired in June in 2013 after four years as deputy director in charge of Guangdong’s financial affairs.
He had been a senior figure at the Guangdong Development Bank – now China Guangfa Bank – for 10 years, first as president’s assistant, then vice-president, president and chairman.
He resigned from his positions at the bank on June 19, 2009 - the same day a vice-president of the bank, Wang Xin , was arrested for economic crimes committed in 2005 and 2006.
Wang was a director of GDB on behalf of China Life, one of its major stockholders. As vice- president, he was responsible for handling 56 billion yuan in non-performing assets.
Li had been a “naked official”, a term used to describe a party official whose family lives overseas. His wife and son had moved to Australia in 1997.
Australian media had focused on Li as an example of a Chinese official who used the country as a haven for money taken out of China.
According to the Australian Financial Review, Li started investing in Australian property as early as 1997, when he was a major shareholder in an 85-apartment building in North Sydney.
He set up a property company with two other Chinese businessmen in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics, according to documents filed with the corporate regulator, the article said. The North Sydney site was acquired for US$7.65 million and at the time, property research firm Cordell estimated the project’s value at US$25 million, it added.
Separately, on May 31, a court in the city of Zhangjiakou in Hebei province jailed a former head of the statistics bureau for life after finding him guilty of corruption. The court said he had illegally accepted the equivalent of more than 153 million yuan.