Caixin
Sep 01, 2014 06:58 PM

Two Shanxi Officials with Troubled Pasts Now Graft Suspects Themselves

(Beijing) – Two senior officials in Shanxi Province who have had brushes with corruption investigations in the past have themselves fallen afoul of the Communist Party's graft fighter as a scandal in the coal-rich northern province expands.

The Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC) said on August 29 that an inquiry had been launched into Bai Yun, a member of the provincial party standing committee. In 2012, she turned over 20 million yuan to the government after a scandal involving a property developer came to light.

The CDIC also said it is investigating Ren Runhou, Shanxi's vice governor. An underling of Ren's at a mining was punished a few years ago for taking nearly 50 million yuan in bribes.

Both Bai and Ren are accused of "serious discipline and law violations," a phrase that usually means corruption.

Six days earlier, the CDIC said Chen Chuanping, also a member of province's standing committee and the party boss of Taiyuan, and Nie Chunyu, secretary general of the same committee, had been placed under investigation.

A total of six vice-provincial-level officials have been placed under investigation for graft in Shanxi since the beginning of the year. In the hierarchy of China's government, that rank is equal to or higher than vice provincial governor.

Five of those people were part of the 13-member party standing committee in the province. Each province is overseen by a party committee. A select group from that organization forms a standing committee, the highest decision-making body in the province.

Bai, 54, becomes the first female vice-provincial-level official to fall since a nationwide anti-corruption crackdown started in late 2012. She joined the military as a medical worker at age 16, and in 1984 joined the publicity department of Shanxi's Su County.

From 1986 to 2003, Bai worked in the Communist Youth League, which acts as a reservoir of young party leaders. Over the next decade, she was the party head of the Shanxi cities of Luliang, Yangquan and Yuncheng. In January last year, she was promoted to head of the province's United Front Work Department, which handles relations with non-party groups, and also named a member of the party standing committee.

Bai's name appeared in state media reports in connection with bribery cases during her tenure in Yangquan between 2006 and 2012. The Beijing-based newspaper Legal Weekly reported in 2012 that officials in Yangquan were found to be taking bribes from a property developer detained that year. The Yangquan government said it would not punish officials who handed over money, and received 90 million yuan, including 20 million yuan from Bai. However, the local government said she had no connection with the developer, the report said.

Ren, 57, is a veteran in Shanxi's coal industry. He worked in the Xishan Mining Bureau, which later became the Xishan Coal Electricity Group, from 1979 to 1998. Xishan Coal Electricity Group is now the country's largest producer of coking coal. During his tenure, Ren headed three major mines under the bureau and was applauded for improving production.

In 2000, Ren was named vice chairman and general manager of one of Shanxi's largest collieries, the Luan Group, spent a decade in the company.

Ren was appointed deputy governor of Shanxi in January 2011, overseeing industrial development, state-owned firms and work safety. He was later diagnosed with a form of throat cancer and speculated mounted that he would retire soon.

A subordinate of Ren's at Luan Group, vice general manager Liu Rensheng, was given a suspended death sentence in 2011 for taking more than 46 million yuan in bribes.

(Rewritten by Han Wei)

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