October 13, 2015 / 6:52 AM / 4 years ago

Former senior China energy executive jailed for 20 years for graft

BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in central China on Tuesday jailed a former senior Chinese energy executive for 20 years on corruption charges, the latest official to fall in a sweeping anti-graft campaign linked to allies of disgraced security chief Zhou Yongkang.

President Xi Jinping has warned that rampant corruption threatens the survival of the ruling Communist Party and has waged a war on graft in the past three years that has felled scores of top officials in the party, the government, the military and state-owned companies.

Wang Yongchun was a deputy general manager at China’s biggest oil company, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) [CNPET.UL], until he became caught up in a graft probe last year.

CNPC, the parent of PetroChina, was a power base for domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang, who was jailed for life for corruption in June.

Wang went on trial in July on charges of “holding a huge amount of property with unidentified sources” and “abuse of power by a staff member of a state-owned company”.

“The property of defendant Wang Yongchun and his family obviously exceeded legal income, and the source of $42.5 million yuan ($6.7 million) in assets could not be explained,” the Xiangyang city Intermediate Court in Hubei province said in a statement.

Several senior CNPC executives have already been put under investigation in the far-reaching graft crackdown, among them former chairman Jiang Jiemin, who on Monday was sentenced to 16 years in prison for bribery and abuse of power.

The court said under the direction of Jiang, Wang had assisted in operations that led to “extremely large losses” to state interests.

Zhou, 72, is the most senior Chinese official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communist Party swept to power in 1949, and many of his former colleagues or political allies have been caught up in the campaign.

A court in the northeastern city of Tianjin opened the trial of another Zhou associate on Tuesday, former vice governor of the southern province of Hainan, Ji Wenlin, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Ji, whose criminal probe began as early as 2014, illicitly received more than 20.4 million yuan ($3.2 million) in assets and bribes between 2002 and 2013, Xinhua said.

According to his official biography, Ji had worked under Zhou when the latter was the party boss of Sichuan province and the public security minister.

Another Zhou aide from Sichuan, Guo Yongxiang, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday in a separate Hubei court for bribery and other crimes.

Reporting by Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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