Railway official gets death penalty

By Chen Ximeng Source:Global Times Published: 2014-1-2 23:53:01

A former senior official of the Hohhot railway bureau in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has been given a death penalty with two years' reprieve for accepting bribes of more than 130 million yuan ($21.48 million), it was revealed on Thursday.

The Hengshui Intermediate People's Court in Hebei Province sentenced Ma Junfei, former deputy head of Hohhot railway bureau, on December 26, according to a written judgment disclosed by an insider to the Global Times Thursday.

Ma, 48, had accepted about 75 million yuan in bribes and another 63 million yuan from unidentified sources since becoming the bureau's deputy head in charge of transport in August 2009, the verdict said.

Wang Hongmei, a director of the Yihe Energy Group in Inner Mongolia had bribed Ma 14 times, a total 8.8 million yuan.

At least 40 mining or electric power companies from Inner Mongolia and other provinces bribed Ma tens of thousands to millions of yuan, according to the judgment.

An insider close to Ma told the China Business News that Ma filled his two houses in Hohhot and Beijing with money and gold.

The railway plays an important role in transporting coal and other goods in the autonomous region, a major coal-producing area of the country.

The railway bureau determines how to allocate transport, giving railway officials a lucrative opportunity, Wang Mengshu, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, explained to the Global Times on Thursday.

An insider close to the railway bureau told the National Business Daily that September 2012 statistics showed the train lines under the bureau could handle 7,600 freight train cars a day, about 10,000 train cars fewer than demand.

The imbalance between supply and demand was large, Wang said, noting that there were never enough trains to handle demand.

At the same time, profitable coal in the peak season inspires many coal owners to bribe railway officials.

Ma was among several high-ranking railway officials allegedly involved in a series of corruption scandals, following former minister of railways Liu Zhijun who was given a suspended death penalty on suspicion of corruption and abuse of power in July 2013. 

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