A Chinese court sentenced a former senior city economic planner to suspended death on Friday for taking bribes and abusing his power, state news agency Xinhua said, the latest in the Communist government's war on corruption.
Pi Qiansheng, who headed a high-profile economic development zone near Beijing and was fired last year, was found guilty of extorting money and accepted bribes of 7.55 million yuan ($1.12 million) during 1995-2005, Xinhua cited the ruling as saying.
His "illegal actions" while heading the Tianjin Economic and Technology Development Zone administrative committee during 1996-1998 resulted in 220 million yuan worth of losses in state assets, Xinhua reported quoting the court ruling. The Tianjin development zone is 120 km (75 miles) southeast of Beijing and established to boost north China's economy and become a logistics hub for northeast Asia.
Pi's downfall adds a stain to hopes of Tianjin, which has spent billions of dollars revamping its infrastructure, to emerge as a regional financial and economic centre despite its past success in attracting foreign investment into the zone. Foreign firms with large operations in the city include Airbus <EAD.PA>, Motorola Inc <MOT.N>, Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> and GlaxoSmithKline Plc <GSK.L>.
The court also ordered all of Pi's property be confiscated. In China, suspended death sentences are almost always reduced to life sentences after two years if the prisoner does not re-offend.
China's ruling Communist Party has repeatedly vowed to stamp out official corruption, a key source of public discontent as the booming economy gives senior officials many opportunities to use their power for private gain.