Ex-town head gets death in 14.4m yuan bribe case

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A former town official in Sanya in Hainan Province has received a suspended death sentence for taking 14.4 million yuan (US$2.3 million) in bribes and causing government losses of up to 700 million yuan.

Li Ji, former head of Haitang Bay town and the town's management commission, had been responsible for allocating compensation to villagers whose land was taken in order to build luxury resorts, prosecutors said.

Li was charged in a graft investigation that started in mid-2011 and involved 104 people, with 76 being detained and 12 sentenced, Legal Daily reported yesterday.

The court sentenced Li to death with a two-year reprieve and confiscated 2.1 million yuan of ill-gotten money, said Ma Yongxia, secretary of the Party discipline watchdog in Hainan Province.

Li used his position to arrange excessive compensation payments and steer construction contracts to those who paid him bribes, prosecutors said. Contracted projects also were left unfinished.

Li was appointed Haitang Bay town head in August 2008.

By the end of 2009, six villagers, including Dong Guomin and Li's sister-in-law, had spent millions of yuan building a fish pond without approval in a bid to inflate government compensation for their land, the paper said. Dong sent Li a payment of 1 million yuan, and Li allocated them 23.9 million yuan in compensation, the newspaper said.

In 2011, after hearing he was being investigated, Li returned 2.3 million yuan in bribes, prosecutors said.

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