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Hebei's contrite former Party chief gets 15 years in corruption

By Zhang Yan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-16 06:11

Zhou Benshun, the former Party chief of Hebei province, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday for accepting bribes.

Personal assets worth 2 million yuan ($291,000) and his illicit gains will be confiscated and turned over to the State, according to Xiamen Intermediate People's Court in Fujian province, which heard his case.

The court heard that Zhou had made 40 million yuan from bribes. The corrupt conduct made him so wealthy that he had a maid whose sole duty was to care for his pets, according to a documentary aired on China Central Television.

Zhou abused his power in order to benefit others using real estate deals, fire control projects, bank loans, job promotions and other means, court officials said. Illicit compensation was given to him and his family members in cash and other assets between 2000 to 2015.

Over the 15 years, he served as Party chief of Shaoyang, Hunan province; security chief for Hunan; a member of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee; and Party chief of Hebei province.

In October, Zhou's story was included in Always on the Road, the documentary aired by China Central Television on corruption. The program featured the details of 77 cases involving more than 10 high-ranking officials.

Zhou's ill-gotten gains brought him a life of luxury, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the top anti-graft watchdog that jointly produced the documentary with CCTV. He had a secretary, a driver, two chefs recruited from his hometown in Hunan and two maids to look after him and his family in his 800-square-meter villa.

In the documentary, Zhou said he regretted his corrupt behavior. "I was born in an impoverished family and brought up to look down on corrupt officials," he said. "Ultimately, I became a corrupt official," he added, in a despondent voice.

The court said it had given Zhou a relatively lenient sentence because he had confessed his crimes and expressed remorse, and because all of his illicit assets were recovered. Zhou said he would not appeal the verdict.

Since the current leadership was elected in late 2012, eliminating corruption has become a top priority for China. To date, more than 200 high-ranking officials have been investigated for graft, including Zhou Yongkang, the former national security chief, who was sentenced to life in prison in June 2015.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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