China closes law loopholes to better combat official corruption

In Noticias, Sociedad by PSTBS12378sxedeOPCH

China’s top judiciaries on Sunday issued a document targeting “new forms of corruption” in an effort to catch up with the tricks of wily, corrupt officials, following the regulation issued by China’s disciplinary watchdog in June.

The document, co-issued by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP), set a clear definition of new types of bribe-taking activities.

Major new types of bribe-taking activities include illegally receiving stocks and shares as gifts, buying commodities such as houses or automobiles at ridiculously low prices from those who ask them for favors, receiving bribes through gambling or cooperating with others to operate companies, according to the document.

The officials who take advantage of their posts to make profits for others but receive money or gifts after their tenures, and who seek profits through family members, relatives or specially-related persons should also be severely punished as bribe takers, the document said.

In some circumstances, an official may not be the owner of the bribe, but he or she can still be convicted of bribery because the intention of the briber is clear, the document read.

The document also said people who help officials covertly secure bribes will be punished as “collaborators” and other people who help in obtaining bribes are also defined as “collaborators”.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China issued a regulation targeting the same forms of official corruption that took effect on May 30.

Xia Zanzhong, deputy secretary of the CCDI said official corruption cases have been more and more concealed in recent years, while current laws and regulations have no clear and relevant provisions.

Therefore, the newly issued document and the CCDI regulation were hailed by law experts as “a well-cooperated step of intra-Party discipline and judicial system” to fight against “more sophisticated power-for-money crimes”.

Officials who have traded power for money were urged by the CCDI to confess their misconduct before the end of June or else they would face severe punishment when their wrongdoings are discovered.

According to official statistics, 979 officials had confessed their wrongdoings by June 15 in Central China’s Henan Province alone and turned in illicit money of 8.21 million yuan (1.08 million U.S. dollars).

The judicial explanation said “officials who return the money or gifts they had received in time won’t be charged as bribe taking”, however, “it will make no difference to the graft charges if they return the money or gifts during investigation over themselves or related people.”

The document cannot cover all new types of official corruption cases and courts and procuratorates at all levels should stick to the principle that any activity of trading power for money should be taken as bribe taking, according to the SPC and SPP.

The CPC has been targeting corruption in certain commercial areas since 2006. That year, prosecuting organs at all levels filed and investigated 9,582 commercial bribery cases involving 1.5 billion yuan (195 million U.S. dollars) of illicit money. The commercial bribery cases mainly occurred in government procurement, medicine trading and real estate project development.

To curb corruption over the long term, the CPC Central Committee has proposed a three-pronged approach involving education, more efficient systems and better supervision.