China graft busters blame golf for executive's downfall

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 17, 2016 7:14 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - A fondness for golf was one reason for the downfall of a former senior official of a large state-owned Chinese company who was expelled from the Communist Party last month for corruption, the main graft-busting agency said on Thursday.

Dozens of senior officials have been jailed for corruption since President Xi Jinping assumed office three years ago and launched a renewed push against the problem, warning it was so severe it could affect the party's grip on power.

Wu Shuyuan was a deputy general manager at BENEFO Corp, a mechanical engineering company based in the northern port city of Tianjin, until he was handed over to prosecutors in February following a party-led probe into suspected graft.

The party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection listed forgery among Wu's crimes, in giving a detailed explanation of his wrongdoings.

But it also singled out personal problems, saying he "many times accepted (invites) from others to play golf".

Tales of corruption and officials' high living, including extravagant banquets and expensive rounds on golf courses, have stirred widespread public anger in China, because officials are meant to live on modest sums and lead morally exemplary lives.

Golf courses also have a reputation in China as places where shady deals happen.

In October, the party for the first time listed golf as a discipline violation as it tightened rules to stop officials engaging in corrupt practices.

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The statement provided no other details of Wu's golf habit.

It also said Wu had, in a moment of contrition, twice gone to the door of the graft watchdog's Tianjin office to "clearly explain his problems and seek leniency".

"But he put his faith in luck, and in the end didn't go in, missing an opportunity."

Calls to the company seeking comment went unanswered. It was not possible to reach Wu for comment and unclear if he has retained a lawyer.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)