A former high-ranking Chinese bureaucrat has admitted to accepting, over a period of 25 years, a staggering array of bribes in form of 374 residences worth more than 800 million yuan ($130.43 million); more than 64 million yuan in cash; and millions of yuan worth of stocks, cars and art.
Liu Zhijun started in the rail business in 1984 as station master in the city of Wuhan and worked his way up to minister of railways in 2003, expanding China’s high-speed railways extensively while in the post. In 2011, after a train collision that left 40 dead and 192 injured, Liu was criticized and relieved of his job. But that was only the start of his troubles.
An investigation into the collision found that Liu had been involved in corruption while in his minister post, and n April of this year, he was arrested on corruption charges. The Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court began to hear Liu’s corruption case on Saturday, according to Sina News, a Chinese news portal. Liu has admitted to accepting the bribes.
Along with Liu's cash and stock assets, which are now frozen, authorities have also seized 16 vehicles and 612 art pieces, Jinghua News, a Beijing-based newspaper, reported.
The court findings on Liu contained 477 files, and 11 people were found to have bribed Liu, five of them employees of the rail system looking for advancement and the other six CEOs of companies hoping to get construction contracts, reported Zhongcai, a Chinese financial news portal.
Liu came from a farming family in Hubei province. In 1984, he entered the railways system as the station master in the city of Wuhan.
The largest bribe Liu accepted amounted to 7.44 million yuan, from a former head of a regional bureau of railways, Shao Liping. In return for seven bribes over the years, Liu helped Shao obtain high-ranking positions in the railways system. In 2011, Shao was relieved of his post as the head of the bureau, according to Jinghua.
Liu also accepted 28 separate bribes, a total amount of more than 1.77 million yuan, Jinghua reported, from another employee of the railways system, identified by his last name of Liu, in exchange for advancement.
Liu has admitted to all the charges and expressed his wish to repent in court. Liu will be sentenced at a later date, according to Zhongcai.
The case comes at a sensitive time in China's economic development as the nation's wealth disparity is growing wider. This 77-year-old homeless man living in his rickshaw might have appreciated one of Liu's 374 houses.