An investigation spanning more than two years culminated last week in official corruption charges against former railways minister Liu Zhijun (pictured).
During Liu’s eight-year tenure, he presided over the fast-paced development of China’s high-speed railway system. He was known within the ministry as a workaholic driven by high-flying political ambition. He was nicknamed “Great Leap Liu” after his favorite saying, “To achieve a great leap, an entire generation must be sacrificed.”
His desire for higher office may have also fueled his alleged corrupt activities. Investigators reportedly concluded Liu hoped to use $65 million to bribe his way into China’s elite political leadership.
Media reports allege Liu took $6.5 million from entrepreneur Ding Shumiao in exchange for $650 million worth of railway contracts.
Ding is also thought to have introduced Liu to young women, including television actresses.
Over-haste and corruption seem to have reinforced one another in the construction of the high-speed railways, resulting in a July 2011 train collision near Wenzhou that left 40 dead.
Liu himself stands in danger of losing his life if convicted. No trial date has yet been announced.
In December 2012, Qu Jianguo, former manager of the Zhuhai branch of Guangdong Development Bank, was sentenced to death for receiving $5.2 million in embezzled funds and bribes.
Liu is accused of reaping almost twice that amount in ill-gotten gains.
Liu reportedly sought a guarantee from his family lawyer Gao Zicheng that he would not receive the death penalty.
Gao declined to give a guarantee, and the authorities appointed Qian Lieyang of the Dacheng Law Firm to be Liu’s defense attorney.
Qian has represented more than 40 allegedly corrupt officials in the past, at least three of whom received the death penalty.
Sources: Sina (新浪网), South China Morning Post, International Business Times
A version of this post appeared in the China Compliance Digest. For a limited time, subscribers to China Compliance Digest will receive the China Anti-Corruption Handbook (normally $750) and an ethiXbase membership (normally $695) at no extra charge. Details are here.