Ex-head of China policy bank gets 14 years for taking US$5.3 million in bribes

Former chairman of China Development Bank’s supervisory board found guilty of corruption offences spanning 11 years

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 August, 2017, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 August, 2017, 7:19pm

A former senior executive of one of China’s policy banks was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined 3.5 million yuan (US$520,000) on Friday after being convicted on bribery and corruption charges, state media reported.

Yao Zhongmin, the erstwhile head of the supervisory board at China Development Bank, was found guilty of taking bribes totalling 36 million yuan between 2002 and 2013 in return for providing preferential treatment to his associates on lucrative property development projects and bank loans, People’s Daily reported on Saturday.

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The 65-year-old, who had been detained since June last year, was tried at the Intermediate People’s Court of Baoding, central China’s Henan province, the report said.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection launched an investigation into Yao’s alleged “severe violations of party codes of conduct” in June last year. He was subsequently expelled from the Communist Party and removed from office.

As well as accepting financial rewards, the disgraced banker was found to have used his position to gain sexual favours, the report said.

Yao’s sentencing came just weeks after China’s President Xi Jinping publicly criticised the country’s financial regulators for failing in their duty to contain financial risks. His comments were made at the National Financial Work Conference, which is held once every five years and at which China’s leaders also agreed to establish a financial stability and development committee in a bid to avert future financial crises.

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The prevention of systemic risks is the central theme of financial work and the government should take a greater initiative in monitoring, warning against and dealing with it in a timely manner, Xi was quoted by Xinhua as telling hundreds of party elites at the two-day meeting, which ended on July 15.

Since the start of the year, several top officials in the financial sector have been investigated and toppled, including Xiang Junbo, the former chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, Li Changjun, the former party chief and president of the Beijing branch of the Export and Import Bank of China, Yan Cheng, the former vice president of a local state-owned bank in Inner Mongolia, and Yang Dongping, the former chief risk officer of the Bank of Communications.

In response to Li’s fall, Hu Xiaolian, chairwoman of the Export and Import Bank of China, recently ordered all of her top executives to heed the party call and redouble their efforts to tackle corruption and ensure clean governance.

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As the world’s largest development-focused financial institution, China Development Bank plays a central role in promoting Beijing’s economic interests abroad. It also lends more money to overseas projects then either the World Bank or Asian Development Bank.

In 2010, Wang Yi, a former vice-president of the bank, was given a suspended life sentence after being found guilty of accepting almost 12 million yuan in bribes over nine years in return for approving irregular loans.

Commenting on the sentence handed down to Yao, Hu Xingdou, a professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said he thought it was relatively light.

“Some officials take bribes amounting to hundreds of millions, or even billions, of yuan, so maybe the 36 million yuan Yao illegally amassed was considered not that big a deal,” he said.

“As a result, officials may decide it’s worth being corrupt if they are only going to get a relatively lenient penalty even if they are caught.”

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Also on Friday, the Luoyang Intermediate People’s Court in Henan upheld the life sentence handed down to Wang Min, a senior national legislator and former party chief in northeast China’s Liaoning province, Xinhua reported on Saturday.

The 67-year-old had earlier been found guilty of taking bribes, either personally or through others, totalling 146 million yuan. The court said that between 2004 and 2016 he used his authority in Liaoning, and formerly Jilin province, to benefit his associates in their business activities and professional careers.