April 28, 2017 / 9:08 AM / 3 months ago

China jails former Baoshan Iron & Steel official for 17 years for graft

3 Min Read

BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in China on Friday jailed a former chairman of Baoshan Iron and Steel, who went on to become vice mayor of Shanghai, to 17 years for bribery and graft, a state broadcaster reported.

President Xi Jinping has waged war on graft for more than four years, ensnaring top politicians, leaders of state-owned enterprises, financial regulators and senior bankers.

Ai Baojun had used his positions to amass more than 40 million yuan ($5.8 million) in assets from 2000 to 2014, a court in the southern city of Zhangzhou ruled, according to China Central Television (CCTV)

Ai is the most senior official from China's financial hub to be sentenced in the corruption campaign. He could not be reached for comment.

The court also ruled that 5.8 million yuan of Ai's personal assets be confiscated and returned to Baosteel and to Shanghai city, CCTV said.

Ai was given a lenient sentence due to actively providing details of his crimes, which he accepted and apologised for, the court said, adding that many of the bribes were accepted by relatives without his knowledge.

China's top anti-graft watchdog stripped Ai of his party and state positions in January 2016 after an investigation found him guilty of breaking party discipline rules, as well as the crimes he was sentenced for.

According to his official biography, Ai ran Shanghai-based Baoshan Iron and Steel from 1998 to 2007 before taking up a Shanghai vice mayor post until 2013. Baoshan Iron and Steel declined to comment.

He then became head administrator for Shanghai's free-trade zone, the first such zone on the Chinese mainland.

CCTV separately on Friday announced that Si Xianmin, former chairman of China Southern Airlines Group, had been handed a sentence of 10 years and 6 months and fines of a million yuan by an unnamed court for taking bribes from 2005 to 2014.

According to CCTV, Si accepted the sentence and would not appeal.

Si became CEO of China Southern Airlines Co, the listed arm of the group, in 2004 and then also became chairman of the parent company in 2009, holding both positions until he resigned in January 2016.

Si could not be reached for comment. Phonecalls to China Southern Airline were not answered and the company did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Robert Birsel & Simon Cameron-Moore

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