A Chinese businessman with high level political connections could be sentenced to death if found guilty of murder and running an organised criminal gang in Hubei province, central China. Liu Han, 48, is suspected of building a vast network of political and official connections which have helped him to do business in the past.
Sources report that the ” long list of senior cadres who may have received money from Liu included high-ranking current or former officials from Hainan, Yunnan and Chengdu, capital of Sichuan.” Although ties between politicians and the business world are not unusual, Liu’s trial has shed light on the extent of his networks.
While this may not be a blue-print for every wealthy-politico network the details do expose the depth of these connections.
Connections Sources reported in the South China Morning Post revealed several of Liu’s connections including: Zhou Bin, the eldest son of Zhou Yongkang retired former member of the Politburo Standing Committee. According to the New York Times, the Zhou family is the subject of an investigation into their ties to the China National Petroleum Corporation, the state run entity formerly run by Zhou Yongkang.
Allegations around their relationship involved the over-priced sale of companies and making gifts or cash and rare artefacts to politicians to secure their favour, and using friendly mah-jong games with officials to lose money and hand over more cash. Investigators are also claimnig more gifts were made to senior officials in Inner Mongolia, state-owned China Development Bank and the Political and Law Commission. Some of those involved in the far reaching tentacles of the web are still in office, others are on trial.
Although they remain unpunished so far, polticial advisers in China believe their days are numbered. and the top leadership – read President Xi Jinping – needs more time to settle disputes among the Communist Party top echelons. Under China’s criminal code, officials who “abuse their authority by enabling profit for others” or taking bribes worth more than 100,000 yuan can be sentenced to death.
Zhang Ming, a political scientist with Beijing’s Renmin University, said the decision not to punish certain officials showed that Liu’s case was entirely political, not judicial. “The worlds of business and official power are so entwined, and every single official in the country could be punished if the top leaders ordered complete scrutiny,” said Zhang. “To choose which officials should be punished depends on political requirements.”
A member of Liu Han’s family spoke to the post to profess his innocence: “You could charge him with anything, including economic crimes. But he is not a gangster,” he told the Post earlier.