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February 16, 2015

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City health official jailed for 19 years

A FORMER Shanghai health official has been sentenced to 19 years in prison and had 5 million yuan (US$799,500) in property confiscated, a city court announced yesterday.

Huang Fengping, 50, former deputy director of the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission, embezzled about 1.5 million yuan in addition to taking more than 3 million yuan in bribes, Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court said yesterday.

He was also unable to account for more than 11 million yuan worth of property owned by his family, the court said.

Huang, a neurosurgeon who had served as president or vice president at several hospitals, worked at Huashan Hospital for more than 10 years and served as its vice president before becoming the commission’s deputy director in 2012.

At his trial in August last year, Huang admitted his offenses, including some that had yet to be investigated, when he was initially detained, the court said. He received a light sentence because all the money and property involved had been recovered.

Previous reports had linked the bribery to the GlaxoSmithKline scandal, but the court did not say yesterday if there was a link.

The UK pharmaceuticals firm was fined US$490m last year after a court found it guilty of bribery. The penalty followed allegations the drug giant paid bribes to doctors and hospitals to have their products promoted.

In court, Huang admitted taking bribes and apologized to his former colleagues, but added: “No one told me I couldn’t take money for my personal use.”

Prosecutors said that in September 2013, police found more than 400 sealed envelopes filled with cash at his apartment in Songjiang District. They also found two 500 gram gold bars and a large quantity of US and Canadian dollars and euros in the trunk of his vehicle.

Huang told prosecutors he had once raised over 7 million yuan for the Shanghai Medical Association’s neurosurgical branch from over 50 pharmaceutical companies eager for the association to promote their products.

He used about 500,000 yuan to buy two gold bars to thank some major supporters, but they were returned. He then kept the bars in his car.

He said he also used some of the cash to buy shopping cards. He also bought foreign currency for his wife and family who had emigrated to Canada.

Huang said he often failed to get invoices for accommodation and meals when he traveled abroad on business, so he took some money to cover expenses.

Three pharmaceutical representatives told prosecutors they had known Huang since he was a young doctor and would offer him bribes to buy their medicines and equipment. The companies weren’t named.

Huang said receiving cash from patients and pharmaceutical companies was common.

“It has become an unspoken convention for doctors to receive money from patients and pharmaceutical companies,” Huang said.

Huang said he had received the 400 envelopes from patients in over a decade, but had never opened them.

“It is unfair to say I have over 11 million yuan property with unknown sources because the money in these envelopes was from my patients and I could hardly know the source of them all,” he told the court.

Huang graduated from Shanghai Medical University in 1996 and gained a postdoctorate degree from the University of Michigan in 2000.

His research and projects have been recognized in state and city awards. He was a member of the standing committee of the city’s political advisory body before his arrest.


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