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Chinese minister used ‘seafood’ as code for bribes and took £10m delivered in lunchboxes

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-01-17

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A former senior Chinese security minister has confessed to accepting more than 90m yuan (£10m) in bribes and to using “seafood” as code for exchanging money.

In a five-episode documentary aired on Saturday by state broadcaster China Central Television, Sun Lijun, the vice-minister of public security until 2020, said he used to receive cash four to five times a year, disguised in a little “small seafood boxes”.

Mr Sun said he used to receive money and bank deposit cards from Wang Li-ke, a former deputy head of the eastern-central coastal province Jiangsu. Mr Wang was later appointed police chief in the province, which is known for producing crab and fish.

“He [Wang] came to Beijing about four or five times a year, and each time he gave me $300,000 [around £219,300] in a small seafood box. Every time he came, he said he’s bringing ‘a little seafood’, then I knew what was going on,” Mr Sun said, according to SCMP .

Mr Sun is one of the high-profile politicians facing scrutiny under president Xi Jinping’s anti- corruption campaign, which was launched after he came to power in late 2012.

He was expelled from the Communist Party and stripped of his titles last September. Last week, he was formally charged for taking bribes, manipulating securities markets as well as the more unusual accusation of “illegal possession of guns”.

The charges against Mr Sun, who was previously in 2020 dispatched by the president to Wuhan to oversee the handling of the pandemic, had sparked an outcry over the corruption in the police force and government officials. It also sparked a debate over the longstanding practice of bribing officials disguised in gift boxes of mooncakes and teas.

Co-accused Mr Wang was also expelled from the party and charged with bribery.

Mr Sun also confessed to helping Mr Wang get promoted. “I saw him as one of my own people,” Mr Sun said.

Mr Sun was previously accused of  “deserting his post” during the pandemic when he was supervising Covid-19 response in Wuhan.

He was also accused of “selling official posts”, accepting bribes in the form of “large amount of money and property, attending banquets and high-end entertainment activities, and indulging in a luxurious lifestyle for a long time”.

Under Mr Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, hundreds of security officials have been removed on charges of corruption – a move also seen as the president’s attempt to remove potential political rivals and critics.

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