BEIJING, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The former chairman of China's state-run oil
refiner Sinopec Chen Tonghai was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for
taking huge bribes, after providing clues to others' crimes that have played a
role in investigating cases, according to an intermediate court statement on
The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court did not reveal which
particular cases Chen's confession had helped.
Chen, the former chairman of the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation
(Sinopec Corp.), had his political rights deprived for life and all his personal
property confiscated, according to the court verdict of his first trial on
According to the law, Chen can lodge an appeal in 10 days if he does not
agree with the court's decision.
His case was sentenced after more than two years of investigation.
Chen surrendered "all the facts relating to his bribe-taking" which
investigators had not known, said the court, which recognized his surrender as a
"confession to justice" and reduced his penalty, which could have been a death
sentence based on the nature of his crime.
The court said, Chen took about 195.73 million yuan (28.66 million U.S.
dollars) in bribes from 1999 to June 2007 by taking advantage of his positions
as deputy general manger of the China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group),
general manager of the Sinopec Group, vice chairman of the Sinopec Corp. and
chairman of the Sinopec Corp.
In return, he helped others seek illegal interests in the enterprises'
operation, land transfers and project contracts, according to the court.
"Given that Chen had confessed and turned in all the bribes he had taken,
admitted his crimes and provided clues to others' crimes, the court sentenced
him to death with a two-year reprieve according to law," said the court.
China's law rules that deciding on penalties for crimes should be based on
"criminal facts, the crime's nature and the extent of social damage".
For those crimes involving "extremely large sums of money," the suspects
should be sentenced to death, but "if they confess or contribute to the handling
of relevant cases, they should not get an immediate death penalty in principle,"
the court statement said.
It said Chen's sentence was in line with the people's courts' "consistent
penalty measurement and criminal policies".
The court took former Governor of southwestern Yunnan Province Li Jiating,
who had been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, as an example. Li had
"accepted extremely huge amounts of bribes and committed serious crimes" but was
not sentenced to immediate death because of his contribution in investigation,
the court said.
Corrupt officials, such as former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee
of the National People's Congress Cheng Kejie who was executed in September
2000, former vice governor of Anhui Province Wang Huaizhong who was given a
lethal injection in February 2004, and former food and drug administration head
Zheng Xiaoyu, executed in July 2007, got immediate death sentences because they
"refused to plead guilty" and their bribe-taking "caused extremely serious
social impact," it said.
"Chen Tonghai's sentence is a result of people's court's criminal policies
and reflects both severe punishment of corruption and the policy of tempering
justice with mercy," it said.
Chen has been expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the
government and officially charged with corruption in January 2008.
The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of
Supervision announced the moves in a statement after a joint investigation on
Chen, who was also the Sinopec Party chief, which began in June 2007.
Chen had been accused of taking bribes to help others, including his
mistress, make unlawful profits, and he also led a "corrupt life", according to
Born in 1948, Chen worked as mayor of Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province, and
deputy commissioner of then State Planning Commission until 1998 when he became
a deputy general manager of Sinopec. In 2003, he took over as general manager.
All the charges against him dated from his arrival at Sinopec, one of the
largest state companies in China, the authorities said.
Chen has been the highest-level state enterprise leader controlling the
largest-scale companies and committed serious crimes with the largest sum in
recent years, the court said.
"The handling of Chen's case sounded an alarm for the country's state-run
company leaders," the court said, adding state enterprise reforms should be
accelerated to improve supervision of power and "unearth corruption from the
The court said the sentence showed the Party and the government's
determination to fight corruption. "For corrupt officials, no matter what power
they have, what positions they hold, they will be seriously punished if they
violate the law."