Saturday, August 8, 2009

Article - China cracks down on graft

BEIJING - CHINA'S nuclear chief is the latest in a string of high-level officials snared in a crackdown on graft which on Friday saw the execution of the former head of the firm that owns Beijing airport.

Kang Rixin and Li PeiyingKang Rixin (right) is being investigated for allegedly squandering public funds and accepting bribes and Li Peiying (left), former chairman and general manager of Capital Airports Holding Company (CAH), was put to death in the eastern city of Jinan for accepting bribes. --PHOTOS: XINHUA, FINANCE.SINA.COM.CN

Aviation head executed
CHINA'S President Hu Jintao has repeatedly warned that corruption is one of the greatest threats to the legitimacy of Communist Party rule and courts often hand down harsh sentences to make an example of offenders.

In the latest demonstration that the Party takes the problem seriously, the former head of the company that owns Beijing Capital International Airport was executed on Friday, after being convicted of bribery and embezzlement totalling nearly US$16 million (S$23 million).

Kang Rixin is being investigated for allegedly squandering public funds and accepting bribes valued at up to 1.8 billion yuan (S$378 million), the Chongqing Times reported.

Authorities are probing the possibility that Kang took bribes from French nuclear power giant Areva to win a contract for a project in China's southern Guangdong province, said the report, which was posted on numerous government websites.

Kang also allegedly traded on the stock market large amounts of public funds earmarked for the construction of three nuclear power plants, suffering huge losses when the market crashed last year, the report said.

'Recently, the state has greatly expanded the scope of developing nuclear power, a lot of major projects are being started that involve huge investment,' the paper said, citing unnamed sources close to the case. 'This is where corruption may have occurred.'

The report did not detail how much of the 1.8 billion yuan was lost in the illegal stock transactions or how much was linked to the alleged bribery.

Kang, party secretary and general manager of China National Nuclear Corporation, was being probed for possible involvement in 'grave violations of discipline,' Xinhua news agency said last week when announcing the investigation.

Chinese authorities often use the term 'discipline violations' to mean acts of corruption.

In November 2007, Areva announced an agreement to supply China with two third-generation nuclear reactors in a deal worth eight billion euros. -- AFP

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