Ex-official sentenced to jail for corruption
Zhang Lijun, former vice-minister of environmental protection, was sentenced to four years in prison on Wednesday for taking bribes worth 2.43 million yuan ($357,000), a local court in Beijing ruled.
Zhang, 64, was also fined 500,000 yuan ($73,500) and all his ill-gotten gains were confiscated, according to the verdict of the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People’s Court.
The verdict said Zhang abused his power to gain benefits for others on product sales, project approvals, job promotions and hiring the children of other officials, and accepted bribes between 1998 and 2013.
During the course of 15 years, he served as the director of the planning and finance department under the State Environmental Protection Administration, director of the administration’s pollution control department, deputy head at the administration and vice-minister of environmental protection.
SEPA was upgraded to the Ministry of Environmental Protection in 2008.
The court said in a statement that Zhang was given relatively lenient punishment because he had confessed to his crimes and expressed regret, and all his ill-gotten assets have been recovered.
In July last year, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the country’s top anti-graft watchdog, announced an investigation into Zhang for “serious discipline violations” two years after his retirement.
In June this year, he stood trial in Beijing on charges of taking bribes.
Last year, the CCDI sent a special inspection team to the Ministry of Environmental Protection to collect evidence of graft, which found some problems such as interference by ministry officials and their relatives in environmental impact assessments.
Since late 2012, when the new Communist Party of China leadership was elected, anti-corruption has become a priority, and a sweeping drive to target both high and low-ranking officials has been initiated.
To date, more than 140 high-ranking officials have been placed under investigation for, or convicted of, graft issues, including Zhou Yongkang, the country’s former security chief, who was jailed for life in June last year.
Zhang Lijun, former viceminister of environmental protection