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February 22, 2011

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Ex-official admits to corruption

A FORMER official who was in charge of Shanghai's land-use approvals, admitted taking 10.45 million yuan (US$1.59 million) in bribes when he appeared in court yesterday.

Tao Xiaoxing pled guilty to receiving bribes including 3.29 million yuan, US$30,000 and HK$500,000 in cash, a shop valued at 6.38 million yuan and a Cartier watch worth 20,000 yuan.

Prosecutors told Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court that Tao, 60, former deputy director of the Shanghai Housing, Land and Resources Administrative Bureau, took advantage of his position to speed up land-use approvals for seven real estate developers.

Tao told the court he had confessed to his crimes and asked for leniency. He said he had returned all the bribes.

In a previous confession to prosecutors, the court heard that he told himself it was okay to accept gifts from developers as long as they were qualified to get his approval.

But prosecutors said the developers involved had made huge profits - up to hundreds of millions of yuan - because of Tao's actions.

Tao accepted a total of eight bribes, sometimes with the help of his son, the court heard. His son, Tao Qing, will be dealt with in a separate case.

Tao Xiaoxing helped Sun Zhenyue win approval for a plot in Songjiang District in 2001 and bought a villa developed by Sun's company. In return, Sun transferred 635,000 yuan to a company account belonging to Tao Qing.

Yang Dexing contributed most to Tao Xiaoxing of the developers. Yang obtained the right to develop two plots in Minhang District and paid him 150,000 yuan in 2004. Yang also gave him a shop valued at 6.38 million yuan in 2006 after Tao Xiaoxing approved a change of use from warehouse to commercial.

The former official also accepted money and gifts when he was abroad on business tours. Two developers even flew to Hong Kong to give him cash in 2005 when he was there.

Developers also regularly gave Tao gifts in a bid to maintain a relationship with him, the court heard.

The court didn't hand down a verdict after the hearing.

In 2008, two former officials in the house and land bureau were jailed for corruption.

Another former deputy director, Yin Guoyuan, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for taking bribes and other crimes.

And Zhu Wenjin, Tao's former subordinate as head of the bureau's land-use management department, was sentenced to 15 years for taking 4 million yuan in bribes.


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