A low-ranking official accused in Guangzhou’s biggest-ever corruption case – involving some 400 million yuan (HK$503 million) – is now on trial.
Zhang Xinhua, 52, the former general manager of a state-owned enterprise, was charged with embezzling more than 284 million yuan in government funds and taking around 100 million yuan in bribes over a span of 15 years, the Yangcheng Evening News reported.
The amount is the highest among graft cases involving Guangzhou officials, Guangdong media reports said. Among the alleged bribes he pocketed was HK$2 million.
During Thursday's hearing, Zhang disagreed with the amount of money involved in the case, but could not provide a counterpoint figure.
Investigators said Zhang did not consider his crimes to be serious, despite the large sum of money involved, and that he thought he could get away with probation, the newspaper reported, citing Wu Xiaoping, the deputy chief of the anti-corruption bureau of the Guangzhou procuratorate.
Zhang was the general manager of the state-owned Baiyun Farm, Industry and Commerce Enterprise from June 1998 to May last year.
According to the procuratorate, in the guise of restructuring the company, Zhang embezzled a huge amount of assets from the state-owned company to his private real estate company, through a variety of means such as fabricating debts, undervaluing assets and hiding bonds.
The embezzled assets include houses, factories, orchards and land, spreading over several districts in Guangzhou. A house in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui is also included.
Zhang alleged that he set up the private company to “protect” state-owned assets from being auctioned, although he admitted that the proposal of restructuring the company was never approved by the authorities.
Some managers at the Baiyun Farm Industry and Commerce Enterprise were deployed to Zhang’s private company, where they held some shares. Zhang himself owned 25.4 per cent of the firm.
Zhang also took bribes from a real-estate company and three investment companies in Guangzhou, as well as from a lawyer.
A total of 18 people involved in the case are under investigation, and 12 have been sued on suspicion of bribery.
A spokesperson for the Guangzhou procuratorate, or prosecutor’s office, said Zhang was reported by the public several times before authorities started an investigation. He was arrested in September last year.