BEIJING may cast its anti-corruption net wider by tackling graft cases involving ministerial-level cadres or above.
Almost invariably, officials convicted of corruption or related crimes are only up to the level of vice-minister, vice-governor or equivalent.
The exceptions have been graft cases with heavy political overtones, such as that of disgraced Beijing party chief Chen Xitong, a long-standing foe of President Jiang Zemin.
A political source in Beijing said yesterday a ministerial-ranked official, who had been an important figure in the law-and-order establishment, had been under investigation for several months.
The source said his case may soon go to trial.
'President Jiang and [Premier] Zhu Rongji are convinced that unless a couple or so of really senior officials are caught, people may still doubt Beijing's commitment to fighting graft,' the source said.
Meanwhile, Xinhua reported last night that two senior bankers had been given heavy sentences for embezzlement and misuse of nearly 200 million yuan (HK$187 million) in Zhengzhou, Henan province.
A court in the city handed down the death sentence with a two-year reprieve on Ma Jiangping, while his 'accomplice', Dong Yaguang, was sent to prison for 20 years.
Ma, former head of a local business office of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, was also deprived of his political rights for life and had 100,000 yuan of his property confiscated.
Dong, former head of a branch of the Zhengzhou co-operative bank, was deprived of his political rights for five years and had 100,000 yuan of his personal assets confiscated.