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August 8, 2009

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Former airport chairman executed for corruption

THE former boss of the company that manages the Beijing International Airport was executed yesterday in Shandong Province for corruption involving more than 100 million yuan (US$14.6 million).

Li Peiying, the ex-chairman of the Capital Airport Holding Co, was put to death after the Supreme Court upheld a lower court's rejection of his appeal.

The 59-year-old Li was found guilty of embezzling 82.5 million yuan and accepting 26.6 million yuan in bribes during his tenure.

Most of the bribes were from Qin Hui, a Beijing-based entrepreneur and owner of the famous Paradise nightclub in the Beijing Great Wall Sheraton Hotel, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Li accepted bribes in exchange for granting loans and providing bank loan guarantees to others using the Capital Airport's money.

Qin testified in his trial that he offered Li nearly 18.68 million yuan so he could receive a loan of about 630 million yuan.

Li also embezzled as much as 82.5 million yuan from the airport's assets management subsidiary.

The Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Shandong, which issued the death ruling on February 10, said Li solicited the bribes, making the crime more serious. The amount of public funds he stole resulted in "extremely large economic losses" for the state and constituted an "extremely serious crime," the court added.

The Capital Airport Holding Co, founded in December 2002, was China's first trans-regional airport group.

Under the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the state-owned airport giant owns, controls or has stakes of 31 airports nationwide and does business in the securities, insurance and real estate industries. Its airports handle 30 percent of all airline passenger traffic in China.

China has long struggled against corruption among high-level officials, especially in state-owned enterprises in the energy, transportation and other key sectors that wield vast political influence and access to state financing.

Hours after Li's execution, the Intermediate People's Court of Hainan Province sentenced Wang Junwu, former vice director of the local State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, to life in prison for taking 9.53 million yuan in bribes. Wang used his power to solicit bribes in a land purchase deal, the court determined.

These sentences came two days after it was reported that the head of China's nuclear power program was under investigation for corruption.

And just last month, the former chairman of China's second-biggest oil company, Sinopec, was convicted of taking US$29 million in bribes and given a suspended death sentence.


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