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Tianjin official under investigation

THE former head of Tianjin's Binhai New Area has been referred to judicial departments for criminal investigation after being kicked out of the Party and relieved of his duties for allegedly taking bribes and other wrongdoing, China National Radio reported yesterday.

Pi Qiansheng, 58, who served on the Party's Tianjin committee before he was suspended from his post in June 2007, was under double-designation status.

The status refers to a scheme under which an official or Party member is ordered to explain or confess alleged involvement in a disciplinary violation or corruption case at a designated time and in a designated place.

The Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Pi had taken advantage of his duty and accepted bribes.

Pi's daughter, Pi Xiaomeng, who worked for Citibank in the United States, was taken into custody by Tianjin police last August during her annual leave in China, according to an earlier report by Beijing-based Caijing magazine.

Pi Xiaomeng's confession provided clues to her father's disciplinary violation, Caijing quoted an insider as saying.

Pi Qiansheng could be tied to a corruption case involving Huo Jinyi, according to Caijing. Huo, former board chairman of the government-backed Northern International Trust & Investment Co Ltd, was sentenced to life in jail in June last year by a Tianjin court for embezzlement and taking bribes.

Huo lent 50 million yuan (US$7.3 million) to a Netherlands-registered company via NITIC in 1998 when he was acting as the financial chief of Binhai. The loan was approved by Pi, Caijing reported.


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