China jails former Three Gorges chief Cao Guangjing for life for taking bribes

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A former senior official in central China was sentenced on Friday to life in prison for taking over 216 million yuan (US$29.8 million) in bribes and helping others to profit from insider trading.

The Xuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in the eastern province of Jiangsu handed down the sentence to Cao Guangjing, 60, former deputy governor of Hubei province.

The court said Cao took advantage of his senior positions at China Three Gorges Corporation and the Hubei government from 2004 to 2022, taking bribes to help others win business contracts.

He also was convicted of leaking information about the bailout plan of a Hubei listed company in January 2021 when he was the province’s deputy governor and in charge of the restructuring operation.

The leak enabled an unidentified party to buy shares in the listed company before the bailout plan was announced, and profit by more than 10.4 million yuan, the court said.

The court said the amount of bribes Cao accepted was “particularly huge”, and the circumstances of the cases were “particularly serious”.

He was ordered to serve life in prison on the bribery charges and six years for insider trading.

The terms will be served concurrently because Cao gave himself up to graft-busters, confessed, expressed remorse and surrendered his ill-gotten gains, according to the court.

Born in Shandong province, Cao spent most of his career in China Three Gorges Corporation, where he served as chairman and Communist Party secretary from January 2010 to 2014.

Mainland media reports said the corporation was riven with internal rivalries during Cao’s time at the helm.

In February 2014, inspectors sent by Beijing said the corporation had “conspicuous problems in the selection and use of people, and some leaders have remained in position despite disciplinary problems”.

A month later, Cao and his rival Chen Fei, the group’s general manager, were both transferred out of the group to other positions.

Cao was appointed deputy governor of Hubei but in February 2022, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), China’s top corruption watchdog, announced he had been detained as part of a corruption investigation.

Cao was expelled from the party and stripped of all his official positions seven months later.

The CCDI accused him of making friends with “political crooks” hoping to buy his way up, and of trading power for sex and money.

He was also accused publicly of not living the frugal lifestyle President Xi Jinping demanded of officials.

The CCDI accused him of accepting expensive gifts and indulging in luxury travel and banquets offered by businesspeople.

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