A former senior inspector at China’s top anti-corruption agency has been charged with accepting 460 million yuan (US$71 million) in bribes.
Dong Hong, who until 2018 was deputy leader of the central inspection team of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) – the Communist Party’s top anti-corruption watchdog – faced trial on Thursday at the Intermediate People’s Court of Qingdao, eastern China, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
His trial drew national attention because he is a former personal aide to Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan, and before that to party elder Bo Yibo.
The prosecutors said that Dong, 67, should be held criminally responsible for accepting bribes totalling 460 million yuan, either directly or through third parties, in almost every position he held in the last two decades of his political career, CCTV reported.
According to the prosecutors, Dong’s corruption started as early as 1999, when he was secretary to Wang and joined the liquidation team after Wang was sent to deal with the aftermath of the bankruptcy of state firm Guangdong International Trust and Investment Company.
Dong appeared pale and thin in a photograph at the trial released by state news agency Xinhua. The court said Dong “confessed to his crimes and expressed repentance”.
The hearing was adjourned and sentencing will be announced at a later date.
CCTV’s report said nearly 20 people attended the trial – fewer than usual, with social distancing being observed. The audience included deputies to the National People’s Congress, members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and some journalists.
Dong joined the then general office of the Central Advisory Commission, a powerful bastion of party elders, in 1983, serving as an aide to Bo. He began to work with Wang in 1998 and was named a leader of a CCDI inspector group after Xi Jinping became the party’s general secretary in 2012.
In a departure from the standard reporting format for allegedly corrupt officials facing trial, China’s official media did not issue a detailed career history for Dong in their coverage.
A Chinese lawyer who has handled similar corruption cases said Dong may receive a suspended death sentence or life imprisonment, given the amount in bribes that he was accused of accepting was “substantially lower” than the 1.8 billion yuan of Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of Huarong, one of China’s largest state-controlled asset management firms.
Lai was sentenced to death for taking bribes, along with other forms of corruption and bigamy, and was executed in January.
“Xing Yun, the former Inner Mongolia head of public security, was given a suspended death sentence in 2019 for accepting 449 million yuan in bribes. Dong’s case looks similar,” said the lawyer, who declined to be named because of the case’s sensitivity. “Another similarity is that Xing was also detained for investigation years after he retired.”
Dong was detained by the CCDI last October for “serious violations of the law and party discipline”, a euphemism for corruption. The CCDI accused its former investigator of having “totally lost his ideals and convictions … committed grave violations of party political discipline and rules, been dishonest and disloyal to the party, engaged in superstitious activities and intervened in disciplinary and law enforcement matters through illegal means”.
Dong was also accused of indulging in extravagance by “frequenting private clubs and attending banquets that might have compromised how he discharged his official duties”.
His case was handed over to the judiciary in April, after he was stripped of his party membership and all retirement benefits.