Zhang Shaochun, China’s former Vice Minister of Finance, was brought to trial on Dec. 14 on charges of accepting bribes worth 66.98 million yuan ($9.7 million). He has been under investigation since May.
Zhang, 60, is alleged to have taken the money in exchange for using his various government positions from 1995 to 2018 to help companies and individuals smooth out business operations, job adjustments, and their children’s academic enrollment.
On May 7, Zhang was placed under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) internal disciplinary body, and the National Supervisory Commission, the recently created state anti-corruption agency considered to be the highest authority on “serious violations of regulations and laws” committed by Party members.
Zhang was expelled from the Party and removed from public office on Sept. 20. The court had yet to issue a verdict as of Dec. 14.
Zhang was also accused of resisting investigation and using internal sources to make illegal inquiry about his case. While in office, he led a dissolute lifestyle, frequenting private clubs, hosting banquets on public money, receiving monetary bribes and gifts, and “trading money for sex,” according to the disciplinary bodies.
On Sept. 19, details of Zhang’s corruption case went viral on the Chinese internet.
A widely circulated Chinese article said when Zhang was under investigation on May 7, a large amount of foreign currency was found at his home, including $90 million, 84.75 million euros ($95.85 million), 52.3 million British pounds ($65.84 million), and 78 million Australian dollars ($47.29 million), as well as over 1,000 bank cards, for a total value of more than 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion).
Zhang also possessed an underground garage with more than 10 luxury-brand cars each valued at over 5 million yuan ($723,000).
In Zhang’s basement were piles of jewellery, expensive cigarettes, wines, and paintings, worth billions of yuan, according to the article. Zhang was also found to hold more than 130 properties in China and abroad, as well as more than 70 houses in China via his children and relatives, adding up to a total value of more than 5 billion yuan ($0.72 billion).
The article also claimed that Zhang kept 148 mistresses, 11 of whom he gifted a total of over 1 billion yuan (about $140,000) in lottery funds.
The authorities later confirmed the reports.
Zhang started his career in the Ministry of Finance in 1994, serving in several different positions before getting appointed as the assistant to the finance minister in 2003. He served in that role until he was appointed Vice Minister of Finance in 2006, and kept the position until being purged this year.
Since coming to power in 2013, current Chinese leader Xi Jinping has pursued a widespread anti-corruption campaign at all levels of government, disciplining thousands of high-ranking officials. Notable among many of those purged are their shared connections with former CCP leader Jiang Zemin, who continued to enjoy political influence via his allies well after officially stepping down from his positions in the early 2000s.
Fang Xiao contributed to this report.