12/21/2007, 00.00
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Official gets death penalty for graft and embezzlement in pension fund scandal

Wang Chengming, former chairman of a state-run company, might see his sentence commuted to life in prison. The case brought down Chen Liangyu, a top leader in the Shanghai clique. More than 20 people have been arrested for embezzling pension funds for private use.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Wang Chengming, a former chairman of state-run Shanghai Electric, was convicted of graft involving the city’s pension funds and embezzling 300 million yuan. He received a suspended death sentence on Thursday, fuelling speculation his punishment will likely be commuted to life in prison.

Mr Wang was also found guilty of taking bribes from Zhang Rongkun, a former director at Shanghai Electric’s Hong Kong-listed arm, considered the mainland’s 16th richest man, also charged with embezzling money from the pension fund for private use.

The scandal made headlines when Chen Liangyu, Shanghai’s Communist Party leader, was embroiled in the case and accused of corruption over a decade. He and other city officials and businessmen are accused of embezzling 3.45 billion yuan from the city’s pension fund which they are said to have invested in private real estate, speculation and loans to the la Shanghai Feidian Investment Development Co Ltd, a company controlled by Zhang Rongkun.

Altogether more than 20 officials and businessmen have been arrested and most of their trials are still underway.

For analysts the case is part of a power struggle between supporters of current President Hu Jintao and the so-called “Shanghai clique” loyal to former President Jiang Zemin.

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