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Official Expelled in Wake of Share-Dealing Investigation

A retired senior agricultural official has been stripped of his Party membership after being charged with illegally obtaining huge numbers of shares in a listed company.


Sun Heling, former director of the financial department and general economic administrator of the Ministry of Agriculture, was dismissed from the Communist Party of China (CPC) for "violation of disciplines", the China Discipline Inspection and Supervision newspaper reported on Monday.


Investigations conducted by the disciplinary inspection department suggest Sun made huge profits from buying and selling staff shares, using the name of his daughter, who had never worked for the company, reports said.


"By taking advantage of his position, Sun illegally purchased mammoth number of stocks (for staff only) in his daughter's name," said Zhu Baocheng, an official of the CPC Central Discipline Inspection Commission.


The company involved was Lantian Holdings (now renamed Ecological Agriculture), according to another discipline inspection official who declined to be identified. Sun had helped the company become listed on the Shanghai stock market in 1996, Zhu said.


After flotation, Sun is suspected of illegally buying shares over a period of three years from 1996 until 1999.


Zhu did not disclose the total value of the stock purchased by Sun.


Retired for five years, Sun, 66, together with several other officials suspected of involvement, will now face judicial investigations.


Early in 2001, it was found that Lantian had been fabricating records and was involved in more than 3 billion yuan (US$370 million) worth of bad loans, reports said, a situation causing losses to millions of individual investors.


Last year, Qu Zhaoyu, president of Lantian Co, and 10 other senior managers from the company, were punished by the judicial department.


On May 29, Wang Faxiong, an ex-official of the Organization Department of CPC Central Committee, received a court summons for taking bribes from Lantian. In 1998 Wang purchased 280,000 shares in Lantian Holdings for 300,000 yuan (US$37,000) before selling them on for 12 million yuan (US$1.5 million). A verdict is pending.


(China Daily September 22, 2005)


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