Officials in key sectors lured by corruption

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Urban construction, rural infrastructure, transport, and railway projects are the sectors worst hit by corruption and other crimes stemming from abuse of power, a senior prosecutor said.

Officials from key departments, such as land and resources, housing and rural-urban development as well as law enforcement, tend to be the most vulnerable as the bribes they are offered reflect the significance of their departments, Song Hansong, head of the department targeting crimes committed by officials, under the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), told China Daily.

"Corruption and bribery account for the majority of crimes committed by officials," he said.

From January to March, prosecuting agencies nationwide charged 1,923 suspects in major construction projects with crimes related to their office, according to SPP statistics. Of the 1,923 suspects, 160 were senior officials. The charges covered activities in 1,583 cases.

Of these, more than 94 percent, 1,498, were related to corruption and bribery involving 270 million yuan ($41.5 million), according to the SPP.

Cases related to negligence and infringement of public rights accounted for 85.

Song said bribery was particularly rampant in construction projects.

The vast majority of corruption-related crimes in construction occur during bidding and approval procedures as well as land transfers, he said. Along with crimes involving administration, they account for 75 percent of cases in the construction sector.

Bribery occurs in many forms, including so-called information and consultation fees to officials, share offers, and the provision of cheap or free housing. This makes it more difficult to detect, Song said.

In March 2011, Jiangsu provincial higher people's court upheld the death sentence meted out by a lower court to Jiang Renjie, former vice-mayor of Suzhou city in Jiangsu, for accepting bribes of up to 100 million yuan.

From 2001 to 2004, Jiang, who was in charge of urban construction, planning and real estate development, abused his position to help secure "illegal interests" in land development, land ownership swaps, and project bids.

Prosecuting agencies should pay special attention to crimes that violate public economic interests and individual rights, Song said.

Demolition, land approval and resource development are areas that are directly linked to people's well-being and crimes committed in these sectors can easily spark social unrest, Song said.

Supervision is the key, he suggested, for prosecutors to tackle crimes involving corruption.

"Clues can be found in audits, financial documents, inspections and even from the Internet and mass media," he said.

"The fundamental causes of corruption are flawed regulations combined with a lack of administrative supervision," said Li Guifang, deputy chief of the criminal defense committee under the All China Lawyers Association.

"Some government officials have distorted values," he said.

These distorted values and absolute power over their sector can lead to absolute corruption, he said.

Prosecuting agencies should establish a risk prevention and control mechanism, said Hong Daode, a law professor at China University of Political Science and law.

"Strengthening cooperation with government departments, especially in key sectors, will help root out crime at its source," Hong said.

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