CHINA - The number of investigations on major bribery cases involving high-ranking officials has soared in Guangdong province, according to the Guangdong Provincial People's Procuratorate.
Last year, 1,461 people were investigated for bribery in 1,371 cases, an increase of 40 per cent from the previous year, said Chen Weixiong, deputy director of the anti-corruption body under the province's top prosecuting department.
Of those investigated, 159 officials were classified as senior. These included 31 holding positions above the level of bureau chief, an annual increase of 80 per cent.
The 31 high-ranking officials were found guilty of accepting bribes worth up to 10 million yuan ($1.61 million).
"They abused their position to help enterprises that offered bribes for land zoning, development and construction."
Cases involving more than one individual, where officials acted in unison to accept bribes, also registered a rise, he said.
Most corruption cases involved people holding positions of trust and authority or working at State-owned enterprises.
"They were in collusion with illegal business operators to trade money for power at the expense of the public interest," Chen said.
One typical case occurred early last year, when Liu Xiaojin, former director of the Guangzhou Huangpu district Food and Drug Administration in Guangdong, was charged with accepting bribes. He was sentenced to more than five years in prison by the Guangzhou Luogang District People's Court.
The court also confiscated his illicit gains totaling 400,000 yuan.
When he was in a position of authority between 2005 and 2011, Liu used his office and accepted bribes to get those he favoured promoted quickly and eased the way for the approval of pharmacy licenses.
From 2011 to 2012, he served as director of the Guangzhou Huangpu district city management bureau, where he used his position to help enterprises that bribed him to rig the bidding process for a major cleaning project, the court said.
Between 2005 and 2012, he accepted bribes worth 420,000 yuan and HK$64,000 ($8,250). In February 2012, Liu went to the Huangpu district prosecuting department to confess his guilt.
Land deals and construction have been the traditional areas where corruption has surfaced, but the scourge has spread to new areas such as auctions.
Most officials found guilty of corruption tend to be relatively young, often under 35 years of age.
"Guangdong is at the forefront of reform and opening up and is adjacent to Hong Kong and Macao. Corruption often spreads and is inter-provincial, inter-regional and international," Chen said.
But corruption and bribery can be difficult to pinpoint.
"Bribes are offered in various ways, such as consultancy fees, investment opportunities, shares, dividends, or even sponsoring children to study abroad," he said.