A former top official in the People's Congress of Maoming has pleaded guilty to selling government contracts and scores of official positions for nearly 18 million yuan (HK$22.1 million) in bribes. Zhu Yuying, 60, confessed in Guangzhou Railway Transport Intermediate Court on Tuesday to helping 57 cadres secure higher positions in local government between 2006 and last year, in exchange for bribes in various currencies totalling 16.2 million yuan, The Southern Metropolis News reported. Zhu, the former vice-director of the Standing Committee of the Municipal People's Congress, also accepted 1.7 million yuan in bribes from three contractors in exchange for a contract to build a drug-rehabilitation centre in the city of six million in southern Guangdong, disciplinary officials said. He also confessed to giving HK$200,000 in bribes to Maoming's disgraced former party boss, Luo Yingguo , before receiving his promotion to the vice-director's post at the end of 2008. Zhu was placed under investigation in April last year, just two months after Luo himself was named in a sweeping three-year corruption probe in Maoming. The 24 senior cadres and more than 200 mid-level officials named in the probe include deputy mayors, a former police chief and a former chief warden. Prosecutors told the court that Zhu had helped promote one low-level Xinyi city official three times between 2005 and 2009 after receiving bribes totalling 1.5 million yuan, ultimately helping make the man vice-mayor. Authorities said Zhu became so greedy that he even confiscated a contractor's crane and sold it for cash after the contractor's bribe failed to meet his expectations. 'I didn't dare to accept bribes at the beginning,' Zhu was quoted by officials as saying. 'But in my 50s, I found my family was extremely poor compared to others. I started to accept bribes from 2006 and couldn't stop because bribe-givers would be angry if I didn't accept their money. 'The biggest bribe I received was 1 million yuan and I deposited all this bribe money in banks under my friends' accounts. I didn't dare to use a penny of this money.' Lin Haokun , the deputy director of Guangdong's party-discipline department, said last week that many of the disgraced officials faked their ages and educational records to appear more experienced and improve their political chances. Lin blamed the Maoming corruption spree on a power structure that concentrated too much authority in the hands of a few party bosses and bureau chiefs, as well as a lack of effective anti-graft mechanisms. He said disciplinary authorities faced difficulty when investigating Luo because the former boss had appointed so many relatives to senior posts in the party organisation department, police bureau, prosecutor's offices and courts. 'Even the top police investigator is the party boss's relative,' Lin said.