Chen Tonghai, the former head of Chinese oil giant Sinopec Corp., has been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for accepting more than $28 million in bribes, Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday. The sentence makes Tonghai one of the most prominent officials from China’s state-owned corporate sector to be punished for graft.
Chinese courts found him guilty of accepting the bribes during an eight-year period starting in 1999, when he was deputy general manager in a unit of the company, and ending with his arrest in 2007, when he was chairman of Sinopec, Xinhua said. Sinopec, which lists shares in Hong Kong and New York, is also known as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.
Xinhua provided few details of Mr. Chen’s crimes. It said Mr. Chen used his position to dole out contracts, land transfers and interests in company operations in exchange for the money.
[According to] Xinhua.. Mr. Chen confessed and cooperated with authorities, and as a result his death sentence was suspended for two years.
Tonghai’s sentence is one of the harshest ever given out by Chinese authorities although he may be spared execution. Typically, such sentences in the Chinese judicial system are commuted to life in prison. Tonghai however, is not the first exec to be given the death sentence. The vice-chair of Yunnan Copper Group, China’s third-largest copper producer, was sentenced to death in December for accepting over $10 million in bribes.
Apparently China takes corporate wrongful conduct and corruption really seriously.