Former vice-minister Li Jinzao given 15 years in prison for accepting bribes
Former vice-minister of culture and tourism Li Jinzao used his power to indulge in luxuries and he forged evidence to deny receiving bribes such as gold bars, according to a TV documentary aired on Monday night.
Li became obsessed with using power for convenience as a local leader, such as when he was mayor of Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, according to a four-episode TV series broadcast during the plenary session of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, the Party's top anti-corruption watchdog.
"Whether I was going to hospital or on a business trip, I received treatment from others anywhere I went," Li said on camera in a video produced by the CCDI and China Central Television, adding that it also benefited his family and friends.
To facilitate his wife's travel, he "borrowed" a van from a businessman for her to drive. After someone joked about the van, he felt that he had "lost face" and that prompted him to ask for a car from the businessman.
While working in Guilin, Li believed it was normal to attend dinners hosted by businessmen or to receive gifts or money from them.
When he was transferred to work in Nanning as a regional official, his desire for material goods increased, and he received a large number of expensive gifts such as gold products, watches, mahogany furniture and inkstones and began to accept large amounts of money.
He obtained a house after working in Nanning, but didn't return his house in Guilin as required. In 2011, he was appointed vice-minister of commerce and enjoyed public housing in Beijing, but he still illegally occupied the two apartments in Guangxi.
Discipline authorities sent him a notice ordering him to explain and return the apartments after receiving a tip from the public. However, Li was reluctant to relinquish the properties and so he cheated them by returning the keys and housing certificates but still occupied the apartments.
Li said: "It was like a doctor reminding the patient that there was something wrong, but the patient ignored it. The 'germs' gradually accumulated and eventually caused a 'terminal cancer'."
About 90 percent of the bribes Li received occurred after the notice from discipline authorities.
While working in the Ministry of Commerce, he got to know more business people, and seeing their material living conditions his desires escalated, leading to more mistakes.
When working in Beijing, Li wanted to live in a villa but couldn't afford one, so he asked for one from a businessman.
Becoming vice-minister of culture and tourism, Li thought it was the last stop of his political career, so he began to use his power to amass wealth and provide funds and contacts for his son's company.
In May 2018, during an investigation, a businessman confessed that he invited Li for dinner several times and gifted him gold bars, so discipline authorities talked with Li about the situation.
Li admitted it and said he was going to send them back. But when he returned home, he packed up the valuables and moved them somewhere else.
The next time discipline authorities talked with him, he denied accepting the gold bars, and said that if he had received any they must have been purchased by his wife. He even arranged for his wife to go to a shopping mall to buy gold bars accompanied by a friend so that someone could be a witness.
During that time, Li had less contact with businessmen out of fear of being caught. However, after a while, he began to frequent luxury hotels or private clubs again, and ate and drank with businessmen.
During the two sessions in 2020, Li went to a five-star hotel for dinner as soon as the meeting was over.
His inconsistencies prompted discipline authorities to keep an eye on him.
After gradually discovering more problems with solid evidence, authorities finally launched an official investigation.
In April, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for taking bribes worth more than 65.5 million yuan ($9.7 million).