School principals found guilty of kickbacks

Updated: 2011-08-08 08:09

By Yan Jie (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The principals of 12 schools in an East China city have been found guilty of taking more than 4 million yuan ($606,000) in bribes, mostly representing kickbacks from suppliers to school cafeterias, local prosecutors said in a press release over the weekend.

The cases, described as the largest ever instance of bribery in Yongkang of Zhejiang province, also led to the dismissal of the head of the local education bureau.

From April to August in 2010, prosecutors filed charges against 15 people, including the former head of the city's education bureau and 11 principals of 12 middle or primary schools.

The prosecutors accused these individuals of accepting bribes and embezzling school funds in the process of choosing cafeteria suppliers or building contractors, organizing student trips and the promotion of teachers.

Lin Zhen, 38, an ingredient supplier, admitted that he had offered bribes to win contracts with about 30 local schools after starting the business in 2007.

Before the cases were brought in 2010, principals in Yongkang had been the only school officials with the right to award cafeteria-supply contracts.

Lin said he had given Li Feiben, the former principal of Yongfeng Primary School, a 10 percent kickback in exchange for a contract to supply ingredients to the school's cafeteria, according to the prosecutors.

Lin said his relationship with Shu Huadong, the former principal of another primary school, had helped him to strike the deal with Li.

Shu, who had many connections with other principals in the city, turned out to be the brother of Lin's wife. Shu provided further introduction to other principals after the deal, said Lin.

Prosecutors found Li had argued with Lin over the size of the kickback after students' complaints about food quality. Li asked Lin to raise the kickback to 20 percent of the total cost of the supplies from 10 percent.

In August 2010, Li was sentenced to eight years in jail for taking a total of 95,000 yuan in bribes.

Shu, however, received a 12-year sentence after being convicted of taking bribes.

In 2007, Lin used the same tactics to reach a supply deal with Shi Xinxiang, former principal of the Qingxi Junior Middle School.

The arrangement went on for about two years, with Shi receiving 270,000 yuan in kickbacks. In 2010, Shi was sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail.

The other principals involved in the cases received sentences ranging from suspended prison terms to eight years, according to the prosecutors.