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Key figure in pension scandal to face court
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Zhang Rongkun – a central figure in the Shanghai pension scandal – will appear in court soon, charged with bribing high-ranking officials to illegally obtain more than three billion yuan (US$405 million) from the pension fund, a Chinese magazine reported today.

Zhang and his two investment companies face two bribery charges and charges of share-price manipulation, fraudulently issuing debentures and falsifying registered capital, the Beijing-based Caijing said.

Prosecutors said Zhang paid Wang Weigong, deputy general manager of the state-controlled Shenergy Group, 9.33 million yuan between September 2001 and last June. Wang introduced Chen Liangyu, the former Party secretary of the Communist Party of China Shanghai Committee, to Zhang, according to Caijing.

With Chen's help, Zhang acquired a 99.35 percent stake in Shanghai Road and Bridge Development Company Ltd, an arm of the state-owned Shanghai Urban Construction Development Co, by paying 1.015 billion yuan, 300 million yuan less than its lowest market value, the magazine said.

Zhang is reported to have maintained a network linking corrupt officials and executives of state-owned companies by spending 30 million yuan on bribes.

Wang, the key person in Zhang's network, and Chen are still under investigation.

Twenty-five senior government and corporate officials who were toppled in the city's biggest financial scandal involving the misappropriation of 3.7 billion yuan from the pension fund, have been or will be tried in courts in Shanghai, Jilin Province and Anhui Province.

Three pending cases involve Chen Chaoxian, former head of the Changning District of Shanghai, Yin Guoyuan, former vice director of the city's housing and land watchdog, and Yu Zhifei, former deputy general manager of the Shanghai International Circuit Co Ltd.

Yu went on trial in the city of Wuhu's Intermediate Court on September 17, but no ruling has been released. He is accused of embezzling 1.05 million yuan to buy personal housing. Chen Chaoxian's case is said to be listed for hearing by the Hefei Intermediate Court, but a date has not been announced.

(Shanghai Daily December 24, 2007)

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