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June 24, 2011

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Former land-use official gets life in jail for graft

A FORMER official in charge of Shanghai's land-use approvals was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday for taking 10.45 million yuan (US$1.62 million) in bribes.

The Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court also ordered the confiscation of all the personal property of Tao Xiaoxing, 60, former deputy director of the Shanghai Housing, Land and Resources Administrative Bureau, and recovered all his illegal income.

Tao accepted the verdict calmly.

He took advantage of his position to speed up land-use approvals or help real estate developers obtain land at prices below market value.

Tao accepted eight bribes from seven developers between April 2000 and October 2008, the court decided.

These bribes included 3.29 million yuan, US$30,000 and HK$500,000 (US$64,174) in cash, a shop valued at 6.38 million yuan and a Cartier watch worth 20,000 yuan.

Tao pleaded guilty to all the charges in a hearing in February, without appointing a defense lawyer.

"I confess to all the bribes. I have nothing to defend," he told the court in the previous hearing.

"I thought it was OK to accept gifts from developers as long as they were qualified to get approval. It was hard to turn down their gratitude."

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

Developers made huge profits - up to hundreds of millions of yuan - because of Tao's help.

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

Another former deputy director, Yin Guoyuan, who was Tao's predecessor, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for taking 35.55 million yuan in bribes and for 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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