Former Sinopec chairman sentenced to death
Chen Tonghai found guilty by Chinese court of taking $28.66m in bribes
The former head of the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) has been sentenced to death by a court in China after being found guilty on corruption charges.
Chinese news agency Xinhuanet reported that Chen Tonghai served as chairman of the Chinese state-owned energy giant between 2003 and 2007 before he was removed from the position after the enormous scale of his bribe taking became apparent. .
After a two-year investigation it was found that Chen had received over US$28 million in bribes from third parties seeking to gain illegal interests in the company.
However, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled that the death sentence should carry a two-year reprieve, after the official blew the whistle on others involved in criminal activity and repaid the bribes.
The ruling means that the death penalty could be commuted to life imprisonment after two years.
The court said the sentence showed the Chinese government’s commitment to wiping out the endemic corruption in positions of high office.
"For corrupt officials, no matter what power they have, what positions they hold, they will be seriously punished if they violate the law," Xinhuanet reports the court as saying.
"Chen Tonghai's sentence is a result of people's court's criminal policies and reflects both severe punishment of corruption and the policy of tempering justice with mercy," it added.
The court also said that as chairman of Sinopec, Chen is the highest profile official to be found guilt on corruption charges and the $28.66 million he official received in bribes is the highest figure anyone has been found to receive thus far.