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Former mayor, wife face corruption trial

A FORMER mayor in northern China yesterday went on trial accused of taking bribes worth more than 32 million yuan (US$4.68 million).

Xu Guoyuan, former mayor and vice Party chief of Chifeng City in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, accepted an average of 15,000 yuan in bribes a day during his six-year tenure in the city, prosecutors told Baotou Intermediate People's Court.

Xu's wife, Li Minjie, was also on trial for accepting bribes.

Corruption had become a daily routine for Li, authorities said, and she took bribes from strangers she identified in her confession as "the squat and fat one" and "the thin and tall one."

Xu said in his confession that he was born into a poor family and had spent more than 30 years in the Party, becoming mayor of Chifeng in 2004.

The court was told Xu used the power he had in exchange for bribes to fast-track projects or careers.

When Xu became accustomed to bribery, he retaliated against people who would not pay up.

Xu said in his confession that he remembered subordinates who did not offer him bribes and ensured he made trouble for them in the workplace.

A team of investigating police officers raided Xu's house and found precious jade, ivory statues, and ancient paintings worth a great deal of money.

The 53-year-old former mayor hid cash in Buddha statues in his home, prosecutors said.

Xu also sent a safe full of cash and precious jewelry to a Buddhist temple in southwest China's Yunnan Province and hid the key of the safe in an ear of a Buddha statue in the temple, prosecutors said.

Investigators said the couple chanted and offered Buddhist prayers while they were in custody.

However, the couple continued to seek bribes even after they were put under investigation by authorities over how they managed to acquire a 3.8 million yuan villa.

Xu had received, separately, US$300,000 and 200,000 yuan in bribes after the villa investigation began.

Xu was expelled from the Party and sacked from his job on January 23.


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