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New laws tougher on bribery, data sales

CHINA'S top legislature approved a number of criminal law amendments in Beijing yesterday to better protect personal information and punish bribe-taking relatives of officials.

One of the amendments adds an article which forbids staff that usually have access to personal data in government offices, financial, medical and educational institutions, as well as transport and telecommunications departments, from selling or leaking information.

Offenders can face a maximum jail term of three years as well as fines.

For offenses systematically committed by government offices or corporations, those directly responsible will face the same penalties, according to the amendment, which was proposed in August last year.

People who obtain another person's private information illegally will face the same penalties as those who illegally divulge information, said Lang Sheng, vice chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the national top legislature.

Another amendment bans relatives of people who have close relations with government employees from conducting corrupt deals between the employee and bribe-givers.

Lang said that the amendment not only targets the officials' family members but also their lovers, classmates and other acquaintances.

It is aimed to prevent people around officials from taking bribes and helping others to seek illegal benefits from the officials, he said.

Offenders in "very serious cases" could face a minimum jail term of seven years, according to the amendment.

Proposed punishments also include fines and confiscation of personal property, but the draft does not define the seriousness of a case or the exact amount of fines.

This also applies to government employees who have already left their posts, as well as family members, if involved in power-for-money deals.

The revised law doubles the sentence to 10 years in prison for officials who are found in possession of large amounts of money or property but cannot explain how they got them.

The amendments, which went into effect yesterday, also ban counterfeiting, theft, sale or illegal transfer of military license plates. Offenders can face three to seven years in jail.

The amendments also impose penalties on computer hackers and people involved in pyramid selling and illegal banking.

One of the amendments prohibits employees of financial organizations providing insider information to non-financial personnel for profit in securities trading.

The law also tightens controls on abductors, abettors in adolescent crimes and relics smugglers.


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