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Corrupt officials' lovers could also be tried
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08:19, August 26, 2008

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Family members and/or secret lovers of corrupt officials too could face trial if the draft of the Criminal Law's seventh amendment is passed.

Spouses and children of and/or people who have "intimate relations" with corrupt officials could be jailed for more than seven years if they are found guilty of taking advantage of such officials' positions to get bribes or make money illegally.

The draft was submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, the country's top legislature, for the first reading yesterday.

Huang Taiyun, director of the criminal law division of the committee's Legal Affairs Commission, said "people who have intimate relations" mainly mean secret lovers of corrupt officials.

Retired officials, too, could face similar punishment if they use their influence in the government to make money illegally, the draft says.

It proposes tougher penalties for officials with big assets from unidentified sources. Officials who cannot give the source of their assets could be jailed for up to 10 years, instead of the current five years.

"We consider it necessary to impose severe punishment on officials abusing their power for personal gains," Li Shishi, director of the NPC Standing Committee's Legal Affairs Commission, said.

Taking bribes has become a practice among some relatives and/or lovers of corrupt officials. So "they too deserve severe punishment", he said.

Li said the amendments are in line with some NPC deputies' proposals and in response to public opinion that such people get the most severe punishment.

Many of the corrupt officials tend to have extra-marital affairs.

Almost all corrupt ministerial-level officials that the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) has dealt with had at least one extra-marital affair, and most of the "intimate persons" took advantage of their lovers' position to make money illegally, Zhao Dengju, former deputy procurator-general of the SPP, had said earlier.

The lack of relevant stipulations in the Criminal Law makes it difficult to punish such people, Ren Jianming, director of the clean government research center at Tsinghua University, said. That is why "the proposed stipulations are necessary".

He, however, suggested the maximum sentence for officials with huge unaccounted assets be raised to 20 or even 30 years. "It's good to raise the sentence by five years, but it's not enough."

The Criminal Law imposes heavy punishment on officials guilty of taking bribes. For example, a person who takes more than 100,000 yuan ($14,610) as bribe can be jailed for 10 years, or could even be sentenced to death.

Apart from targeting corruption, the draft amendment also spells out penalties for some new economic crimes.

For example, it says financial institutes' employees involved in insider trading could be sentenced for up to 10 years and fined up to five times more. And people who organize pyramid sales could be jailed for up to seven years.

Source: China Daily

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