A Corrupt Chinese Doctor Embezzled $160 Million

April 29, 2015 Updated: May 8, 2015

State-run hospitals in China are stacked with corrupt doctors, just like any government-owned enterprise, according to a recent Chinese news publication.

The Supreme People’s Procuratorate—China’s top prosecuting and investigating body—revealed on April 27 the massive bribes that Wang Tianchao, the former head of Yunnan First People’s Hospital, accepted in his tenure.

Wang Tianchao in an undated photo. (Screen shot)
Wang Tianchao in an undated photo. (Screenshot)

From 2005 to 2014, Wang took over a billion yuan ($161 million) worth of kickbacks—350 million yuan ($56.4 million) in cash, and a hundred apartment units and parking spaces valued at 800 million yuan—while he was overseeing hospital infrastructure upgrades, the purchase of medical equipment, and the promotion of doctors.

Wang is not the first doctor in Yunnan to be charged with corruption, according to Hong Kong-based broadcaster Phoenix Television. In 2011, the former director of Yunnan No. 2 People’s Hospital Zhang Chunguang was found to have accepted 19 million yuan ($3 million) in bribes. For taking over 9 million yuan ($1.45 million) in kickbacks, Yang Zhan, who once headed Yunnan Third People’s Hospital, was sentenced to a five year jail term in 2012.

Dishonest medical professionals can also be found outside Southwest China—Xianyang City’s People’s Procuratorate in Shaanxi Province, Northwest China told Chinese magazine Caixin on Tuesday that six hospital directors, eight deputy directors, and four lab researchers in three Shaanxi cities are currently being investigated for bribery in excess of 26 million yuan ($4.2 million).

Certainly, corruption in state-run hospitals is “very common, just like corruption in government-owned companies,” said Shanghai-based health lawyer Liu Ye to Caixin, which often acts as a mouthpiece for Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Top officials in energy, steel, auto, and airline sectors have been probed and sacked.

Liu says it is easy to get away with accepting bribes in hospitals because “the directors have power, but aren’t regulated.”

Wang Tianchao’s hospital, Yunnan First People’s Hospital, and Yunnan Third People’s Hospital have been listed by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong—a non-profit in the U.S.—as hospitals known to traffic in organs illegally harvested from members of the Falun Gong spiritual meditation group.

Wang has links with the higher ups who are reportedly behind the grisly body crimes.

Wang is a close associate of disgraced Yunnan Party secretary Bai Enpei, according to Chinese news site Sina. Bai in turn supported the purged ex-security czar Zhou Yongkang’s efforts to persecute Falun Gong in Yunnan during his tenure.

With additional reporting by Frank Fang