Net cast wider for cor­rupt civil ser­vants

New su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sions are be­ing set up across the coun­try fol­low­ing suc­cess­ful pilot pro­grams in three ar­eas, as Zhang Yan re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - Con­tact the writer at zhangyan1@ chi­

The first cor­rup­tion sus­pect de­tained by the Zhe­jiang Su­per­vi­sory Com­mis­sion, a civil ser­vant, was im­pris­oned for 15 years and fined 2 mil­lion yuan ($318,000) by Hangzhou In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court in De­cem­ber.

China’s su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sion pilot pro­gram had been launched in Zhe­jiang prov­ince, as well as in Bei­jing and Shanxi prov­ince, just over a year ear­lier.

When Jin Huan­min, a se­nior of­fi­cial at the Zhe­jiang Su­per­vi­sory Com­mis­sion, spot­ted the news on his smart­phone, he glanced up at a pile of files on his desk.

A for­mer deputy head of the Zhe­jiang Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate’s anti-cor­rup­tion and bribery bureau, he had been told of his trans­fer to the com­mis­sion as a su­per­vi­sion di­rec­tor 11 months ear­lier.

Along­side the files on his desk, sev­eral flow­er­ing pot­ted plants that had also made the move from his for­mer work unit had sprouted new leaves. At the same time, Jin’s doubts about his new po­si­tion had com­pletely dis­ap­peared.

In the com­mis­sion build­ing, more than 50 su­per­vi­sion of­fi­cers who, like Jin, also used to work for the pros­e­cu­tion au­thor­ity, put in long hours as they per­form their new du­ties.

In early Novem­ber 2016, the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee is­sued a plan to set up su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sions in the three pilot ar­eas. At the Zhe­jiang Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate in Fe­bru­ary last year, the sign for its anti-cor­rup­tion and bribery bureau was re­moved.

“Af­ter work­ing for 23 years as an anti-graft of­fi­cial in the pros­e­cut­ing depart­ment, I didn’t ex­pect that the re­form would be so fast,” Jin said. “I was so re­luc­tant to take off my pros­e­cu­tor’s uni­form.”

But his ex­pe­ri­ence as a pros­e­cu­tor made him re­al­ize it was time to in­te­grate the coun­try’s scat­tered anti-cor­rup­tion forces.

The du­ties of the var­i­ous anti-cor­rup­tion au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing those re­spon­si­ble for mount­ing prose­cu­tions and those tasked with su­per­vis­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion, had pre­vi­ously over­lapped, he said, which made su­per­vi­sion more cum­ber­some.

“Only with re­form will it com­pletely change,” Jin said.

Af­ter the anti-cor­rup­tion and bribery bureau was dis­banded, Jin was un­sure of his next post­ing un­til late Fe­bru­ary last year, when Ma Guang­ming, deputy head of the Zhe­jiang Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion, called him to his of­fice.

“The Party has de­cided to trans­fer you and an­other 57 anti-graft col­leagues in the pros­e­cut­ing depart­ment to work in the Zhe­jiang Su­per­vi­sory Com­mis­sion,” Ma told him. “You will serve as di­rec­tor of the No 12 su­per­vi­sion unit.”

Jin, fac­ing a new post and new re­quire­ments in a new en­vi­ron­ment, be­gan work­ing at the com­mis­sion in early March last year.

A se­nior pros­e­cu­tor for half of his life, Jin thought he could just move his work­ing style and meth­ods from the pros­e­cut­ing depart­ment to the new post, but he quickly re­al­ized he was wrong.

There were 11 su­per­vi­sion of­fi­cers in his new unit — six from his for­mer depart­ment and five from the Party’s anti­graft watch­dog.

“When han­dling cases in the be­gin­ning, our work­ing con­cepts, ex­pe­ri­ences and cus­toms were all dif­fer­ent and we didn’t un­der­stand each other,” Jin said.

Just a week into his new job, Jin’s unit landed its first case, in­volv­ing a pro­vin­cial-level of­fi­cial sus­pected of graft.

“With no case to fol­low and no ex­pe­ri­ence to draw from in­volv­ing a pro­vin­cial-level of­fi­cial, we just broke the ice and did it,” Jin said.

He di­vided the in­spec­tors into three teams, in­clud­ing one to in­ter­ro­gate the sus­pect and one to col­lect ev­i­dence. They in­ves­ti­gated and an­a­lyzed more than 100 of the sus­pect’s bank ac­counts and fol­lowed the flow of funds through about 20 com­pa­nies to gather ev­i­dence.

Be­cause of their close in­te­gra­tion and their care­ful ex­am­i­na­tion, they ob­tained the ev­i­dence they needed and or­dered the de­ten­tion of the sus­pect in April last year.

“With­out de­tailed de­ten­tion pro­ce­dures or le­gal in­stru­ments for ref­er­ence, we con­quered dif­fi­cul­ties to con­duct the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and col­lect ev­i­dence,” Jin said.

It took us only 20 days to con­firm the facts of his crime and es­tab­lish solid ev­i­dence, and in June the sus­pect was trans­ferred to Zhe­jiang pros­e­cu­tors to face charges. He is now await­ing trial on charges of ac­cept­ing bribes.

This year, Jin’s unit has re­ceived nine cases in­volv­ing civil ser­vants sus­pected of graft or vi­o­lat­ing Party rules. Three of the cases have been con­cluded, while work is con­tin­u­ing on the other six.

“Our ul­ti­mate goal is to pre­vent pub­lic ser­vants be­ing cor­rupted and build a clean gov­ern­ment, not to pun­ish them,” Jin said.

Su­per­vi­sion Law backed

In March, the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, the top leg­is­la­ture, ap­proved the Su­per­vi­sion Law, de­signed to lay a le­gal foun­da­tion for an up­graded anti-graft task force.

Under the law, a new su­per­vi­sory net­work has been es­tab­lished, con­sist­ing of su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sions at the na­tional, pro­vin­cial, city and county lev­els, all with legally de­fined du­ties, li­a­bil­i­ties and pro­to­cols.

“The new Su­per­vi­sion Law and anti-graft sys­tem has laid a solid foun­da­tion for the coun­try to achieve an over­whelm­ing vic­tory in the fight against cor­rup­tion,” said Ma Huaide, vice-pres­i­dent of China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law.

In the re­port he de­liv­ered to the Party’s 19th Na­tional Congress in Oc­to­ber, Xi Jin­ping, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, said new su­per­vi­sion com­mis­sions would be es­tab­lished na­tion­wide at var­i­ous lev­els to pro­vide for the full in­spec­tion of all civil ser­vants.

The new com­mis­sions in­te­grate ex­ist­ing su­per­vi­sory, cor­rup­tion preven­tion and con­trol agen­cies within gov­ern­ments and procu­ra­torates, as well as the Party’s dis­ci­pline in­spec­tors.

“As a uni­fied anti-graft agency under the Party’s lead­er­ship, the su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sion sys­tem is an in­sti­tu­tional in­ven­tion in­cor­po­rat­ing China’s re­al­ity and in­ter­na­tional prac­tice,” said Gao Bo, a po­lit­i­cal re­searcher at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

“The ex­ten­sive net­work will ex­pand in­spec­tion to all pub­lic ser­vants, leave no loop­holes and serve as a pow­er­ful de­ter­rent to cor­rup­tion.”

In late 2016, Bei­jing and Zhe­jiang and Shanxi prov­inces were cho­sen as su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sion pilot ar­eas to bet­ter study how such a sys­tem would op­er­ate and then of­fer that ex­pe­ri­ence to other re­gions.

By late Fe­bru­ary this year, di­rec­tors of su­per­vi­sory comin­spec­tors mis­sions had been ap­pointed in 31 prov­inces, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and au­tonomous re­gions.

In the three pilot ar­eas, most of the anti-graft of­fi­cers from dis­banded procu­ra­torate anti-cor­rup­tion and bribery bu­reaus, as well as those tasked with stamp­ing out dere­lic­tion of duty, were trans­ferred to new posts in su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sions at all lev­els. In China’s other prov­inces and re­gions, the work is still in progress.

In Zhe­jiang, 1,645 of­fi­cials from anti-cor­rup­tion bu­reaus re­spon­si­ble to pros­e­cut­ing depart­ments have been sent to serve as su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sion in­spec­tors since late 2016.

Liu Jian­chao, head of the Zhe­jiang Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion, said under the new com­mis­sions, the num­ber of of­fi­cials and civil ser­vants under su­per­vi­sion had risen by De­cem­ber from 383,000 to 700,000. Be­tween Jan­uary and Oc­to­ber last year, in­spec­tors in Zhe­jiang re­ceived more than 500 tips re­lated to graft, up by 77 per­cent from the same pe­riod in 2016.

In Bei­jing, more than 700 of­fi­cials who worked for an­ticor­rup­tion bu­reaus at the Bei­jing Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate have trans­ferred to a num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sion depart­ments, where they work with Party dis­ci­pline in­spec­tors, since the pilot pro­gram was launched in late 2016.

“They were sent to dif­fer­ent po­si­tions based on their skills. We hope their ex­pe­ri­ence in the ju­di­cial or­gans can com­ple­ment the ad­van­tages of Party dis­ci­pline in­spec­tors,” said Liu Yongqiang, a se­nior of­fi­cial with the Bei­jing Su­per­vi­sory Com­mis­sion.

Fac­ing more chal­lenges

Jin said com­pared with an anti-graft of­fi­cer, “an in­spec­tor needs to be an all-rounder and faces more chal­lenges”.

“In the pros­e­cut­ing depart­ment, I just dealt with in­di­vid­ual cor­rup­tion cases in­volv­ing Party or gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, but a su­per­vi­sion of­fi­cer will also fo­cus on cause and ef­fect,” he said.

Be­cause they ex­er­cised su­per­vi­sion over all civil ser­vants, if they dis­cov­ered vi­o­la­tions of Party rules or cases of graft, they would try to “col­lect and es­tab­lish solid ev­i­dence, find the loop­holes that al­lowed the cor­rup­tion and pre­vent sim­i­lar cases from oc­cur­ring”.

Jiang Laiy­ong, a se­nior re­searcher at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences’ China Anti-Cor­rup­tion Re­search Cen­ter, said set­ting up the new su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sions is con­sid­ered “the ideal up­per-level anti-graft de­sign to cope with cor­rup­tion crimes, and the su­per­vi­sory sys­tem will be a pow­er­ful de­ter­rent to cor­rupt of­fi­cials”.

Jiang said the dif­fer­ent views and work­ing meth­ods of trans­ferred from pros­e­cut­ing depart­ments needed to be in­te­grated with those of Party dis­ci­pline in­spec­tors as soon as pos­si­ble so they could talk ef­fec­tively about the facts of cases, col­lect ev­i­dence and form a uni­fied train of thought for han­dling cor­rup­tion cases.

More­over, the pow­er­ful su­per­vi­sory com­mis­sion in­spec­tors need to be “more cau­tious and strictly fol­low the reg­u­la­tions when us­ing in­spec­tion mea­sures such as the de­ten­tion and in­ter­ro­ga­tion of sus­pects, bor­der con­trol and the freez­ing of il­licit as­sets, be­fore achiev­ing the fi­nal vic­tory in the fight against cor­rup­tion”, he said.


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