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People & Points
Print Edition> People & Points
UPDATED: January 4, 2008 NO.2 JAN.10, 2008
Scandal Kingpin on Stand
Zhang Rongkun, who was a key figure in the misuse of 3.45 billion yuan ($473 million) from Shanghai's social security fund, went to a first-instance trial

Zhang Rongkun, who was a key figure in the misuse of 3.45 billion yuan ($473 million) from Shanghai's social security fund, went to a first-instance trial on December 27-28, 2007, in Songyuan City, Jilin Province.

Zhang, 38, Chairman of Fuxi Investment Corp., is charged with paying bribes totaling 30 million yuan ($4.1 million) to government officials and company heads in Shanghai to obtain the money, which is meant to cover a population of 12 million, for illicit loans and investment. After the scandal was uncovered in the middle of 2006, all misappropriated funds, including interest, totaling 3.7 billion yuan ($502 million), was retrieved.

The probe against Zhang led to the arrest of senior officials including former Shanghai Party chief Chen Liangyu and former national chief statistician Qiu Xiaohua, as well as several business executives. Chen, who was expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) in July 2007, is the highest-ranking Party official to be axed in more than a decade.

At the trial, Zhang, the 16th richest person in China according to the Forbes 2005 list, pleaded guilty to most charges against him, his attorneys revealed.

Prosecutors accuse Zhang of bribing Zhu Junyi, former Director of the Shanghai Municipal Labor and Social Security Bureau and the fund's operator, and his family with money and valuables worth 1.31 million yuan ($180,000). Last September, Zhu was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment.

In addition to bribery, Zhang is also indicted on charges of manipulating the stock market, conducting fraud in issuing bonds and faking registered capital.

Court sources said that the first-instance ruling against Zhang would be announced soon.

In December 2007, several other high-ranking officials involved in the social security fund misappropriation also received punishment. Among them, Qin Yu, former chief of the Shanghai's Baoshan District and long-term secretary of Chen Liangyu, was given life imprisonment. Sun Luyi, former Vice Secretary General of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Both men were convicted of influence peddling and power abuse.

"T he misuse revealed systemic defects and management loopholes [in the pension funds]. We must take the problems seriously, draw a lesson and improve our work."

Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng, after a commission was established to oversee the operation of Shanghai's 10- billion-yuan ($1.28-billion) pension fund in November 2006

"A s long as the people have the final say on the promotion of officials and the power to select and supervise them, the officials won't abuse their power as randomly as they do today."

Professor Wang Yukai at Peking University, suggesting a way of dealing with the corruption problem as quoted by People's Daily

"Hong Kong is entering a most important chapter in its constitutional history."

Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), welcoming a decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, on Hong Kong's constitutional development. The decision, adopted on December 29, 2007, says that the election of the fifth HKSAR chief executive in the year 2017 may be implemented by the method of universal suffrage

"The world's most populous nation will mark the next 12 months with a coming-of-age party that will confirm its transformation in three decades from one of the poorest countries of the 20th century into the globe's third-largest economy, its hungriest consumers and the engine room of economic growth."

London-based The Independent newspaper, saying in an article on January 1 that China is set to assert its status as a global colossus in 2008

"My mother always said that democracy is the best revenge."

Bilawal Bhutto, the 19-year-old son of assassinated former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, after he was named to succeed his mother as leader of the Pakistan People's Party on December 30

"We are determined to deploy the most robust force possible so that it can carry out effectively the difficult mandate the Security Council has entrusted to it."

Rodolphe Adada, head of the new UN Mission in Darfur, speaking at a handover ceremony on December 31 when a new joint African Union-UN force took over peacekeeping in the war-torn Sudanese region from an African Union mission

"Similar laws encouraging labor contracts without specific time limits have been in existence in Western countries since the last century."

Zhu Shanli, Vice President of the Guanghua School of Management under Peking University, defending China's new Labor Contract Law that went into effect on January 1 and enhances the rights of workers

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