Shanghai, Apr 28 (AFP) A Chinese court today sentenced the former director of Shanghai’s free-trade zone to 17 years in prison for corruption, saying he pocketed USD 7.2 million through embezzlement and taking bribes.
Ai Baojun, also a former vice mayor of Shanghai, was formally stripped of his free-trade zone post in January 2016 after coming under investigation by the ruling Communist Party, which at the time accused him of a decadent lifestyle at private clubs, playing golf, and “trading power for sex”.
A court in the city of Zhangzhou in eastern Fujian province where he was tried said in a statement that his embezzlement and bribe-taking spanned 2000-2014, starting from when he was a top official with steelmaker Baosteel, and through his time in Shanghai government and the trade zone.
It made no mention of the previous accusations over his lifestyle or sexual transgressions.
His sentence was lightened from an intended 25 years since most of the bribes were routed through family members, the statement said, adding that Ai confessed to all the charges.
The Shanghai free-trade zone, China’s first, was set up in 2013 as a testing ground for economic reforms.
Since President Xi Jinping assumed power four years ago, China has launched an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, vowing to target both high-level “tigers” and low-ranking “flies”, although critics say the crackdown is open to abuse for political reasons.
Chinese media have said Ai is the highest-level Shanghai official felled in the anti-graft drive, calling him the city’s “first tiger”. (AFP)
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.