China senior official gets life in prison for bribery

BEIJING (AFP) - China sentenced a senior official to life imprisonment for bribery on Friday, a court said, the latest punishment announced in a crackdown on graft under the country's new leadership.

Tian Xueren, formerly a vice governor of the northeastern province of Jilin, was convicted of taking bribes worth more than 19 million yuan (S$3.8 million), the First Intermediate Court of Beijing said in a statement posted on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

"As a person holding public office, Tian... sought unlawful gains for others and accepted money and gifts illegally from others taking advantage of his power and status," said the statement.

"His acts are equal to the crime of bribery," it said.

Tian helped people and companies to secure bank loans, contracts and promotions in exchange for the bribes between 1995 and 2011, it added, while he held various public offices including chairman of the government-linked Bank of Jilin and the executive vice governor of the province.

China's President Xi Jinping has vowed to crack down on corruption at all levels of government, calling graft a threat to the future of the ruling Communist party.

In the most high-profile case, a Chinese court earlier this month rejected fallen politician Bo Xilai's appeal against his corruption conviction and confirmed his life sentence.

In July, ex-railway minister Liu Zhijun was given a suspended death sentence for taking 64.6 million yuan in bribes.

Liu Tienan, once a deputy head of China's top economic planning agency, was announced in August to have been placed under judicial investigation for suspected bribe taking.

But critics say the anti-corruption campaign by China's new leaders has so far netted mostly low-ranking officials with only a handful of senior figures, and no reforms have been introduced to increase transparency to help fight graft.

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