Former party boss of China's Guangzhou gets life sentence for corruption

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A Chinese court on Friday (Sept 30) jailed for life the former Communist Party boss of the southern city of Guangzhou after finding him guilty of corruption, the latest official to fall in President Xi Jinping’s sweeping war on graft.

Wan Qingliang was put under party investigation in 2014, before being handed over to legal authorities for prosecution.

The court in Nanning city said on its official microblog that Wan had taken more than 100 million yuan (S$20.5 million) in bribes, gifts and from extortion in exchange for help with promotions and project approvals.

The court also ordered that all of his assets be seized.

Wan admitted his guilt and handed over evidence not previously discovered in the investigation, meaning he received a lighter sentence, the court said.

While the court did not give an explanation, for such serious crimes he could have received the death penalty.

It was not possible to reach any family members or legal representatives of Wan for comment.

Courts are controlled by the party and do not challenge party accusations, especially in corruption cases, meaning there had never been any doubt that he would be found guilty.

The court said his crimes dated back to 2000, during which time he abused his position as head of the Communist Party Youth League in the southern province of Guangdong, where Guangzhou is located, as well as other subsequent provincial positions.

Guangdong is one of China’s export hubs, and Guangzhou is the provincial capital. As party boss, Wan was the city’s most senior official, outranking the mayor.

China is in the midst of a sweeping campaign against deep-rooted corruption launched by Xi after he assumed power almost four years ago, warning the problem was so serious it threatened the party’s very survival.