Jailed ex-exec points finger at official

Updated: 2011-09-03 08:28

By Guo Rui (China Daily)

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Jailed ex-exec points finger at official

Wuhan deputy mayor accused of bribery is now being investigated

WUHAN - The deputy mayor of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, has been placed under investigation after a jailed businessman accused him of taking bribes and having extramarital affairs, the provincial discipline inspection commission said on Friday.

Lan Shili, a former airline company president who is now behind bars, instructed his niece Lan Jianmin to disclose crimes and breaches of discipline allegedly committed by Deputy Mayor Yuan Shanla in a news conference in Beijing on Thursday.

Lan Shili accused Yuan of embezzling public funds, practicing unlawful lending and being affiliated with gangsters.

A spokesman for the Hubei discipline commission said it is looking closely at the report, and the commission has met with Lan's family members. He said if the report is proved true, the commission will handle the case strictly according to the law.

In response, Yuan said in a phone interview with Guangzhou-based New Express Daily on Thursday that the accusations were slanderous rumors and he believed the discipline commission's findings would vindicate him.

A government worker surnamed Xu said that Yuan was at his office as normal on Friday but did not attend any public activities.

Lan, 51, was formerly the president of the now-bankrupt East Star Airlines in Hubei and was sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 for tax evasion.

The Wuhan native was once touted as a pioneer in China's private airline business. He ranked 70th on the Forbes list of richest Chinese in 2005, with a fortune of 2 billion yuan ($315 million).

His business was hit by the financial crisis in 2008, and his company was declared bankrupt in August 2009.

Yuan Shanla, 57, became deputy mayor in 2005 and is responsible for the city's economy, social security and emergency management.

Lan Jianmin said her uncle once had a close relationship with Yuan.

According to her uncle, Yuan accepted more than 400,000 yuan in bribes from him in 2007; had at least two mistresses; and was affiliated with a finance company controlled by local gangsters and once embezzled 50 million yuan in public funds to invest in that company.

Lan Shili, according to his niece, said he once reached an agreement with the company to borrow 315 million yuan using his airline company's assets as security, but got only 80 million yuan.

Lan said Yuan was the key figure behind East Star Airlines' bankruptcy and that when Yuan learned of his financial difficulties, he told Lan to sell the airlines for 140 million yuan to repay the loan, though it was then valued at 1.1 billion yuan, according to his niece.

When Lan refused, Yuan asked local police to arrest him four times in a week on different charges, she said.

Insisting he was set up by Yuan, Lan Shili asked his niece to expose Yuan to the discipline commission and provincial procuratorate in July, but the petition went unanswered, Lan Jianmin added.

The report has attracted great attention from Chinese netizens, so far, spreading over more than 70,000 micro blogs on Weibo.com, the nation's largest micro-blogging platform.

China Daily