• Add to Favorites
  • Subscribe
  • Friend us on Facebook
  • Follow Caijing on Twitter

Criminal Boss and Senior Officials Form Corrupt Alliance

02-26 16:13 Caijing
China has had a record of treating bribe-payers leniently and punishing bribe-takers heavily in its anti-corruption efforts since the reform and opening-up.

By staff reporters Luo Changping and Wang Lina

Huang Guangyu, once China's richest man, was taken from his company's compound in Beijing by police on the evening of Nov. 7, 2008. Meanwhile, Du Juan, Huang's wife who was being kept under surveillance, was deliberately not arrested so police could continue to monitor her activities.

Over the following three weeks, Du employed all the resources within her reach to change her situation. Dejected and desperate, Du pinned all her hopes on Lian Zhuozhao, "the king of gambling on the high seas," who had powerful connections at sea. At that time, relevant authorities had been notified to restrict Du and Lian from exiting the country either by land or air.

However, the secret order that followed was intercepted and leaked to Lian separately from three different sources including Zheng Shaodong, the then assistant minister of Public Security and director of the Ministry's Economic Crime Investigation Bureau, Xiang Huaizhu, the bureau's deputy director, and Wang Huayuan, member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee and secretary of Zhejiang Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection.

According to the verdict, Wang tipped off Lian in Dec. 2008 when he learned that the police were about to arrest him, after which Lian managed to escape. But a phone call to relatives before boarding exposed Lian's whereabouts. Du was captured in Dalian and Lian was apprehended in Xiamen.

Who is Lian Zhuozhao? Why did senior officials like Zheng and Wang leak secret orders to him? And why did Huang and Du regard him as their savior?

Born Feb. 16, 1968, Lian, a Hong Kong businessman and former gang member, made his first fortune working at casinos and smuggling. Later, he began operating the Neptune Cruises casino in his family's name. He controls Neptunus, a Hong Kong-listed bio-tech company, and is known as "the king of gambling on the high seas" due in part to his extensive connections with senior government officials as well as underworld organizations.

Zheng, Huang, and Lian share the same hometown, the city of Shantou in Guangdong Province. A number of Shantou residents confirmed that Lian met Zheng and Huang back in the 1990s.

"Zheng (Shaodong) is a senior official in the mainland's public security system, leading crackdowns on gambling and illegal private banks. I bribed him in exchange for protection," said Lian in his confession. He said that most of the gamblers who go to his casinos in Hong Kong and Macao are from the Chinese mainland, and since their gambling winnings could be ruled illegal, he is forced to deal with mainland police.

Besides running gambling and smuggling operations, Lian helped corrupt officials and wealthy entrepreneurs from the Chinese mainland launder money through his underground banks. In the Chinese mainland, individuals found guilty of money laundering, such as Huang, are usually tried for "illegal business practices." Huang's conviction offers a glimpse of Lian's well-developed network for money laundering.

Caijing learned that Lian offered a total of over 450,000 yuan in bribes to Chen Shaoji, former chairman of the CPPCC Guangdong Provincial Committee, in addition to the more than 2.3 million yuan he gave to Wang and 7.84 million yuan offered to Zheng. Moreover, Lian's family members helped Huang launder at least 800 million yuan through their underground banks. 

While Huang and the aforementioned senior officials were put in prison one by one, Lian was able to walk away and return to Hong Kong after testifying against several officials including Zheng, Wang, and Chen.

China has had a record of treating bribe-payers leniently and punishing bribe-takers heavily in its anti-corruption efforts since the reform and opening-up. Though evidence of Lian bribing officials and laundering money was recorded in several verdicts, he was never prosecuted and is able to continue his illicit business.

A recent investigation uncovered that Bogu Kailai, wife of former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai, and her family had economic connections with Lian's casinos and money-laundering network. Perhaps only Lian himself knows how deeply intertwined his business is with the mainland's chain of corruption.

1 yuan = 16 U.S. cents

Full article in Chinese: http://magazine.caijing.com.cn/2013-02-24/112525518.html

Editors’ Picks »