Former Beijing airport boss executed for bribery

Executive, Li Peiying

The executive, Li Peiying, had been the chairman and general manager of Capital Airports Holding Company, a 100 billion yuan ($14.6 billion) conglomerate that runs 30 airports in nine Chinese provinces, including Beijing’s much-acclaimed new international airport.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said that Li was executed in Jinan, a Yellow River city in east China’s Shandong province. The province’s Higher People’s Court rejected an appeal in July.

The execution underscored the gravity of the continuing struggle by the national government against official corruption, which President Hu Jintao has labelled a serious threat to the nation’s stability. Graft, especially at lower levels of government, is woven into the fabric of everyday Chinese life, and disclosures of especially outrageous instances often provoke outcries on Internet chat sites and, sometimes, even street demonstrations.

At his peak, Li, 60, supervised a 38,000-employee behemoth that not only served 30 percent of the nation’s air passenger traffic, but had launched forays into insurance, hotels, real estate and tourism.

Last February a Jinan court ruled that he had embezzled 82.5 million yuan ($12.1 million) from the company over a three-year perod ending in 2000, and had accepted an additional 26.6 million yuan ($3.9 million)in bribes during an eight-year period starting in 1995.

Most of the bribes received by Li — reportedly for loans or loan guarantees — came from Qin Hui, owner of the popular Paradise nightclub located in the luxury Great Wall Sheraton Hotel in Beijing, according to Shanghai Daily.

Justifying the death sentence, the court said that Li’s actions had caused the nation severe financial losses.

China executes more convicts than any other nation, and while executions for financial misdeeds are not common, they are not unheard of.

In 2007, China executed the government’s top drug regulator, Zheng Xiaoyu, after he was convicted of taking $850,000 in bribes to approve counterfeit medicines. One of the fake drugs, an antibiotic, was blamed for the deaths of at least 10 people.
In Beijing last month, the former chairman of China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, the oil giant known as Sinopec, was sentenced to death for taking more than $28 million in bribes. Chen Tonghai was given a two-year reprieve for helping prosecutors with other investigations.

The court said crimes involving “extremely large sums of money” warrant the use of the death penalty. The ruling, cited by the official Xinhua news agency, also said the handling of Chen’s case had “sounded an alarm for the country’s state-run company leaders.”

And on Wednesday, China executed two business owners who had been convicted of defrauding investors of more than $127 million, a scheme that “seriously damaged the country’s financial regulatory order and social stability,” according to Xinhua.

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