A former Beijing deputy mayor has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by a court in the Southern city of Nanjing, a year after admitting to accepting 129 million yuan ($20 million) in bribes, state media said Friday.
Chen Gang, 54, who spearheaded urban development in the capital city for over a decade, was also fined 5 million yuan after being found guilty of corruption, according to the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party. He will be required to hand over all of his ill-gotten gains to the central government, the ruling said.
The court gave Chen a relatively lenient punishment after he turned himself in and pleaded guilty to his crimes in November 2019.
During his time as deputy mayor, Chen used his position to help companies win construction projects in exchange for money and gifts worth more than 128.9 million yuan between 2003 and 2018. His high rank and the relatively large size of the bribes led the authorities to label him the “first tiger to fall in 2019” when his arrest was first announced.
The probe into Chen began shortly after Li Shixiang, another Beijing deputy mayor between 2012 and 2017, was investigated by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) – the country’s highest disciplinary body overseeing party members, for embezzlement and corruption. Li was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2019.
In addition to deputy mayor, Chen’s other previous posts in the Beijing city government included head of the urban planning committee, where he directed and oversaw giant, citywide construction projects in preparation for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.
More than half of the bribes were received in 2018, the same year Chen was named head of the China Association for Science and Technology’s secretariat, Caixin previously reported. Fearing his political career might end with his transfer to the academic body, Chen stepped up efforts to accumulate wealth through accepting bribes, several sources told Caixin.
Among other things, Chen instructed the boss of a private company to build him a luxurious private garden, Caixin previously reported. He was personally involved in the garden’s design and construction, and used it to entertain family, friends and businessmen.
Chen was also found guilty of engaging in superstitious beliefs and practices, including two instances when he sought advice from fortune tellers, knowledgeable sources previously told Caixin.
Anti-graft authorities started to investigate Chen in 2016 after being tipped off to his illegal activities. He admitted to some bribery allegations in late 2018, then arranged for his mistress to flee the country the next day. He also colluded with some of businessmen involved in his crimes to coordinate statements regarding their illicit activities, the sources said.