China reveals mountain of bribes seized from fallen Communist Party boss Zhao Zhengyong

The former Communist Party boss of Shaanxi province faces court in Tianjin on Monday.
PHOTO: Weibo

Chinese anti-graft investigators confiscated more than 630 million yuan (S$126 million) in assets and cash from Zhao Zhengyong, the disgraced former Communist Party chief of northwestern Shaanxi province who faced court this week accused of corruption.

State news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday that the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the country’s top anti-graft agency, also seized about 100 million yuan in property and stocks held by Zhao.

Zhao went on trial in the northern municipality of Tianjin on Monday accused of “taking advantage of his position to accept bribes from contractors and people who sought job promotions, personnel assignment and [favours] in the management of company business”, according to the court.

The CCDI said Zhao confessed to his “crimes” in court and a verdict would be announced at a later date.

reported that Zhao was aided by his wife, Sun Jianhui, in accepting the bribes, the biggest amount in a corruption case since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.

“Sun Jianhui… always gave instructions to Zhao’s subordinates and took a cut in many of the energy and property development deals in Shaanxi province,” the report said.

“Many of those ‘white gloves’ and proxies of the Zhao family were related to Sun Jianhui,” it said referring to accomplices in the case.

But, the report did not say if Sun would also face trial.

The scale of the illicit gains prompted widespread criticism from Chinese internet users.

“I once saw a primary school in a mountainous area where there was no glass in the windows and the children used cement slabs as desks. How many families could we lift out of poverty with 700 million yuan? How many schools could be refurbished?” one commenter wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform.

Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, said the authorities had revealed more details of Zhao’s case mainly to assuage public anger over rampant corruption among senior officials.

“According to our study on China’s anti-corruption campaigns, just like this case, the watchdogs are now revealing more on the amount that the state has recovered as that will help to address the public’s concern about the huge amount of bribes involved,” Wu said.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.