The former tax bureau chief of Hebei province has lost his appeal against a death sentence for corruption, Xinhua reported yesterday. Li Zhen, who was sentenced in August by Tangshan Intermediate People's Court for taking bribes worth more than 10 million yuan (HK$9.4 million), will be executed once his sentence is confirmed by the Supreme People's Court. Xinhua said the appeal was rejected by Hebei Higher People's Court, although Li had volunteered information of 'other corruption cases' - hinting that he had provided information on his ex-boss, the former governor of Hebei, Cheng Weigao. Cheng was expelled from the Communist Party in August for alleged corruption and persecution of an informant who reported his corruption to the authorities. He had governed for more than a decade and was a close associate of ex-president Jiang Zemin. The ruling signals that the authorities are close to putting Cheng on trial. The 70-year-old stepped down as Hebei governor in 1998 when he became chairman of the provincial legislature. He was formally arrested early this year. It is expected that the country's leaders will use the trial of Cheng and his cohorts to demonstrate their determination to crack down on corruption. Yesterday, Wu Guanzheng, the party secretary in charge of anti-corruption efforts, addressed graft investigators at the Central Party School in Beijing, urging them to work hard to stamp out corruption in the party. Separately, Xinhua said the Shenzhen prosecutors' office had formally moved to put Yang Gaiqing, a manager of a trading company, on trial for alleged tax evasion involving the smuggling of 820,000 tonnes of cooking oil into China from 1996 to 1998.