China’s Highest Court Investigated Over Lost Ruling That Favored Private Company
The Communist Party committee in charge of China’s prosecutors, courts, and police will form a special team to probe a high-profile scandal involving documents that went missing from the Supreme People’s Court, it announced late Tuesday.
The rare move comes as China’s authorities scramble to assure private businesses that they will protect and support them, following concerns the nation’s highest court could not objectively investigate revelations it lost documents related to a mining contract dispute between a public and a private company.
Without the documents, the verdict — which ruled in favor of the private company — cannot be implemented, according to the South China Morning Post. Private companies regularly complain that state-owned enterprises get favorable treatment in loans and market access — and in the courts as well.
The special investigative team will involve China’s top anti-corruption watchdog, as well as the Supreme Procuratorate (or prosecutor general’s office), and the Ministry of Public Security, an announcement from the Central Legal and Public Affairs Committee said.
The case was an ongoing dispute over rights to a mining exploration project involving a private company, Kechley Energy Investment, and the state-owned Xi’an Institute of Geological and Mineral Exploration. The Xi’an Institute illegally, unilaterally terminated its contract with Kechley and invited a third party into the project without Kechley’s approval, the company alleged.
A video of one of the judges involved in the case, Wang Linqing, went viral after a prominent former television host, Cui Yongyuan, brought attention to the case on social media. In the video, Wang claims that documents related to the mining project disappeared from his office in late 2016 and that security camera footage recorded around time the documents vanished had also gone missing.
The Supreme People’s Court at first denied the claims before backtracking and announcing that it would investigate.
However, after the court announced that it would investigate the matter two weeks ago, some voiced concerns that the national prosecutor’s office would not be involved in the investigation.
Caixin has not been able to make direct contact with Wang but learned through people close to him that he was taken to a hotel for questioning by a team from the Supreme People’s Court’s Discipline Inspection Committee shortly after he arrived at work on Jan. 3. His family said that they worried Wang was being questioned not about the papers, but about why he reported their disappearance.
Zhao Faqi, the head of Kechley, has claimed that the then-Vice President of the Supreme People’s Court Xi Xiaoming — who has since been expelled from the Communist Party for corruption — interfered with the case on behalf of the state-owned surveying institute.
In more videos released online since news of the missing papers surfaced, Judge Wang alleges that an official from the Supreme Court’s discipline inspection committee attempted to interfere in another case to do with mining in Shaanxi. “He asked for a report on the case, and hinted that a leader in our court was very concerned about the case,” Wang said in the video.
The official also hinted how Wang should make his ruling — in favor of the defendant, he said. “I said immediately: it’s not possible. I told him that (the defendant) had asked someone to give me a huge bribe, which I refused on the spot,” Wang said in the video.
The committee said that the results of the investigation would be made public. The Supreme Court released a statement saying that it would fully cooperate with the investigators.
Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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