China wraps up vote-buying scandal as former vice-governor of Liaoning stands trial
- Liu Qiang charged with taking bribes of US$1.5 million, disrupting elections
- Charges are the last chapter in a corruption scandal that erupted in 2011 and claimed six top officials
Top Chinese prosecutors have charged the last of the former high-level officials brought down in a massive legislative vote-buying scandal in the country’s northeast.
Liu Qiang, former vice-governor of Liaoning province, was charged with taking bribes of 10.6 million yuan (US$1.5 million) and disrupting elections, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said on Thursday.
The charges are the last chapter in a corruption scandal that erupted in the province from 2011 and 2013 and claimed six top provincial officials, including former Liaoning Communist Party boss Wang Min, who was jailed for life last year.
The main charges against Liu relate to his election as vice-governor of Liaoning in 2013. Liu, who was the party chief of the city of Fushun, was overlooked for another top office in 2011 and prosecutors allege that he bribed his way into the vice-governorship two years later at the age of 49.
In such elections, the party nominates one or two people more than the number of positions available and then the members of the people’s congress of that administrative area vote for the candidates.
The party’s organisation department will work closely with the people’s congress to make sure the preferred nominees succeed but in rare cases the outsider prevails.
This was the case in 2011 when Liu was the preferred candidate to head the provincial politics and law commission, only to be beaten by Su Hongzhang, then Shenyang deputy party chief.
Su’s candidacy was promoted by Wang and not approved by the party’s standing committee. Both Su and Wang were later detained by the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
According to the CCDI, Su spent about 50 million yuan bribing congress members to vote for him.
The bribery was part of a bigger scandal in which 38 of 62 standing committee members of Liaoning’s people’s congress were disqualified because of fraud, according to Xinhua. In addition, 523 of 616 Liaoning lawmakers helped rig elections that sent 45 colleagues to the national legislature. Those 45 lawmakers were dismissed.
Su was jailed for 14 years on the vote-buying charge. Liaoning people’s congress deputy directors Wang Yang, Li Wenke and Zheng Yuzhuo were also taken away for investigation for corruption, and later sentenced to prison terms of 16½ years, 16 years and 3½ years, respectively.
Zhang Dejiang, the then chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, called the scandal the first of its kind since the founding of the people’s republic, adding that it “touched the bottom line of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and the bottom line of the Chinese Communist Party”.