Caixin
PEOPLE

Anti-Corruption Agency Staff Caught Up in Graft, CCTV Reveals

By Zhou Qijun and Li Rongde
A screen grab shows a scene from the anti-graft documentary “To Forge Iron, the Hammer Must Be Strong.
A screen grab shows a scene from the anti-graft documentary “To Forge Iron, the Hammer Must Be Strong." Photo: Caixin

(Beijing) — Eight officials from the Communist Party's top anti-corruption agency are being investigated for graft, the state broadcaster revealed last week.

Critics say this has raised concerns about whether the ruling party can weed out corruption on its own, as it has set out to do.

The three latest episodes of the documentary, jointly produced by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and China Central Television, put the spotlight on government graft busters who have run afoul of the party’s anti-corruption drive.

Among the 17 disgraced officials profiled in the prime-time program, aired from Jan. 3 to 5, are eight from the CCDI, the party’s top graft watchdog.

Wei Jian, a former head of a CCDI unit that investigates bribery cases, was one official on the program.

He was taken into custody in May 2014 by his own employer pending an investigation. Wei was suspected of taking tens of millions of yuan from over 100 associates, including property developers, since 2005 to serve as a middleman to local officials.

Wei was shown on camera confessing how he once phoned Li Chuncheng, the then-deputy party secretary of the southwestern province of Sichuan, on behalf of a local businessman several years ago.

"I was thinking that even a regional leader (above my rank) had to take me seriously because of the influence I have at the CCDI," he said.

"On top of that, I was telling myself that I'm working at the CCDI, so who else has the authority to investigate us?" he said.

The documentary does not say how Wei's alleged irregularities came to light, or how much he took from the Sichuan-based businessman. But he told investigators that at the time, he wasn’t worried about the potential risks linked to the large amount of illicit gains he had amassed.

The documentary did not detail the progress made on Wei’s investigation.

Wei was able to curry favor with senior provincial and ministerial officials because he could make or break their political careers as an anti-corruption official, said Du Peng, a CCDI official overseeing the case.

After Central Committee General Secretary Xi Jinping launched a war against corruption shortly after taking the Communist Party’s reins in 2012, the CCDI was given a prominent role in anti-graft campaigns.

CCDI officials, even some low- and middle-ranked ones, wield enormous clout as they are frequently sent to conduct spot inspections targeting senior officials at central government ministries or provincial and regional authorities.

Yuan Weihua, a low-ranking CCDI official who was detained by party discipline investigators for allegedly abusing his position in 2015, had allegedly tipped off high-ranking government officials in trouble in return for favors for nearly a decade, according to the documentary.

While Yuan was in the northern port city of Tianjin conducting a corruption investigation on city officials in 2014 and 2015, he had allegedly notified then-Tianjin Major Huang Xingguo about the secret investigation into Huang’s alleged wrongdoings, the documentary revealed.

Yuan helped his father develop his small construction firm into a behemoth, capable of handling contracts worth billions of yuan, according to CCDI investigators.

“I only had an official rank of a division head, but I could get a vice minister to work (for me),” Yuan said.

“When you can get a vice minister to be at your beck and call by simply uttering a few words, you quickly go down the slippery slope of abusing your position to get preferential treatment” from those in power, he said.

Yuan had secured two contracts for his father’s company, allegedly with help from Huang and other officials in Tianjin shortly before his fall in 2015, the documentary shows.

Huang’s case has been referred to state prosecutors for possible criminal charges after he was expelled from the party and dismissed from his position for “grave violations of party discipline,” a common euphemism for corruption, earlier this month.

Contact reporter Li Rongde (rongdeli@caixin.com)

Share this article
Open WeChat and scan the QR code
Copyright ©2017 Caixin Global Limited. All Rights Reserved.