Local authorities in Suining City, Sichuan Province recently punished ten cadres at the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau for graft and corruption, collecting from them 6.32 million yuan ($945,000) which they embezzled.
According to an April 17 report from state-run Chinese media The Cover, the local anti-corruption watchdog of Suining City received numerous reports from local companies since the end of 2012, accusing cadres at the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau of corruption. The watchdog commission thus initiated an investigation in December 2017, and found out that all the high- and mid-level cadres in the bureau were involved in corruption.
Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, he has launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign to rid the Chinese Communist Party of misbehaving officials, who were often also members of a political opposition that challenged Xi’s authority. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Party’s internal watchdog, has investigated and purged thousands upon thousands of officials, from the lowest level to the most powerful in the Party’s senior leadership.
According to The Cover report, these cadres only picked the plum jobs, and ignored duties they considered to be profitless to themselves. When assessing whether local companies complied with environmental protection regulations, they accepted bribes from company officials in exchange for giving them favorable inspection results. They would then merely go through the motions when performing the environmental inspection.
The officials also forced companies to hire the contractors they designated for them—as they would receive kickbacks. If there is a need for construction, expansion, renovation, or an IT upgrade, the officials would benefit from such arrangements. When purchasing equipment or starting a construction project, the officials only choose contractors who would be willing to give them significant rebates, which they would pocket.
Altogether, 32 cadres and employees at the bureau were found to be involved in corruption. Among them, 15 people will be subjected to further legal investigation, six are to be prosecuted, and five have been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party.
Huang Hao, director of the research institute within the Suining Environmental Protection Bureau, started his own company for making environmental assessments. He transferred clients from the bureau to his company, making a profit of 660,000 yuan ($98,681). He also colluded with other bureau employees to falsify staffing documents; after he gave an inflated number for manpower on a 5-year environmental protection project proposed by the city government, he was able to pocket 70,000 yuan ($10,466) from the project funding.
Zhang Kai, director of the Chinese Communist Party committee in charge of the Monitoring Center within the bureau since 2009, colluded with others to fabricate their testimony and forged evidence many times during the investigation.
During his tenure from 2009 to 2017, Zhang ordered his subordinates to generate fake invoices and embezzled 850,000 yuan ($127,089) from the monitoring center.
Wang Jie, office director at the Monitoring Center, accepted bribes in the form of money and gifts totaling 600,000 yuan ($89,710). He also fudged the accounting in order to get reimbursement money for expenditures that were never made.
Chief engineer Fu Xiaobin is also a member of the Party committee at the bureau.
During his tenure between 2012 and 2018, Fu was in charge of making many environmental assessments and became more and more greedy. By late 2018, he had collected bribes amounting to 315,000 yuan ($47,100) from the companies and organizations that relied on his positive inspections to continue their business operations. These companies presented him with New Year gifts almost every year, with a total monetary value of roughly 208,000 yuan ($31,100).
He tried to resist the investigation and colluded with director Huang Hao to give false testimony.
These three cadres and the chief engineer were all expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and dismissed from their posts. They will be prosecuted shortly.
Tang Hongjun, deputy director at the Monitoring Center, was also found to have accepted bribes in the form of money and gifts, totaling 13,000 yuan ($1,944).
The anti-corruption watchdog decided to allow Tang to remain within the Party, but would monitor his behavior to make a final determination on his fate.