‘Brother Watch’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By MA LIE in Xi’an malie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Of­fi­cial who caught the na­tion’s eye with his pen­chant for ex­pen­sive wrist­watches stands trial on cor­rup­tion charges.

A for­mer of­fi­cial of Shaanxi prov­ince, who drew pub­lic out­rage last sum­mer af­ter a news photo showed him smil­ing at the site of a deadly high­way crash and for his col­lec­tion of lux­ury watches, pleaded guilty to cor­rup­tion charges on Fri­day in Xi’an.

Dubbed “Brother Watch” by Chi­nese ne­ti­zens, Yang Da­cai, 56, is on trial for bribery and hold­ing un­ex­plained properties worth 5.04 mil­lion yuan ($820,000). He is the for­mer di­rec­tor of the Shaanxi provin­cial work safety ad­min­is­tra­tion.

At Xi’an In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court, Yang, with hun­dreds of lo­cal of­fi­cials, lo­cal res­i­dents and me­dia in at­ten­dance, said that he had no ob­jec­tions to the charges and con­fessed to ac­cept­ing bribes.

The pros­e­cu­tion pre­sented ev­i­dence that from May 2011 to March 2012, Yang, as di­rec­tor of the work safety ad­min­is­tra­tion, helped a com­pany ob­tain a busi­ness qual­i­fi­ca­tion per­mit and re­ceived 250,000 yuan from the com­pany.

Of­fi­cials from the com­pany tes­ti­fied in court on Fri­day to ver­ify the ev­i­dence. Yang him­self con­fessed that he re­ceived the money in his of­fice.

The pros­e­cu­tion pointed out that prop­erty be­long­ing to Yang and his fam­ily is es­ti­mated at 11.77 mil­lion yuan, of which 5.04 mil­lion yuan in prop­erty could not be ex­plained. Pros­e­cu­tors also said Yang’s wife and son made 11.15 mil­lion yuan in sep­a­rate in­vest­ments.

Yang said the 5.04 mil­lion yuan came in the form of nu­mer­ous money gifts from subor­di­nates and school­mates given to him dur­ing the hol­i­days.

Yang’s lawyer said that his client’s con­fes­sions could al­low the court to con­sider re­duc­ing Yang’s prison sen­tence.

At present, the 5.04 mil­lion yuan in dis­pute and the 250,000 yuan re­ceived as a bribe are be­ing kept by the pros­e­cu­tion.

Guo Jie, a pro­fes­sor with North­west Univer­sity of Pol­i­tics and Law, said con­sid­er­ing Yang’s at­ti­tude in court, he could be sen­tenced to 10 to 15 years in prison.

Yang’s demise be­gan on Aug 26, 2012.

As the di­rec­tor of the provin­cial work safety ad­min­is­tra­tion at the time, he was caught by a news pho­tog­ra­pher smil­ing at a se­ri­ous traf­fic ac­ci­dent in which 36 peo­ple were killed and four were in­jured on a high­way in An­sai, north­ern Shaanxi prov­ince. The photo was soon re­leased on the In­ter­net, spark­ing anger from ne­ti­zens.

On Aug 30, 2012, the dis­ci­pline and in­spec­tion com­mit­tee of Shaanxi provin­cial Party com­mit­tee an­nounced that Yang was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

On Feb 22, 2013, Yang was re­moved from his of­fice, ex­pelled from the Party and de­tained for his al­leged crimes.

Pho­to­graphs later sur­faced on the In­ter­net of Yang wear­ing nu­mer­ous lux­ury wrist­watches in pub­lic, earn­ing him the nick­name “Brother Watch”.

LI YIBO / XIN­HUA

Top: Yang Da­cai, for­mer head of the Shaanxi provin­cial work safety ad­min­is­tra­tion, is seen on trial on Fri­day at Xi’an’s In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court. Yang pleaded guilty to ac­cept­ing bribes and own­ing an un­ex­plained amount of prop­erty. Above: The then Shaanxi work safety chief Yang Da­cai smiles as he in­spects a high­way crash that killed 36 peo­ple on Aug 26, 2012. The photo sparked pub­lic out­rage and led to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of his life­style.

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