Senior Chinese police official given suspended death sentence for taking $1M-plus in bribes

BEIJING (AP) — An assistant public security minister who led China's economic crimes investigation unit was given a suspended death sentence Tuesday for taking more than $1 million in bribes and abusing his position, state media said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Zheng Shaodong was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve by the Xi'an Intermediate Court. Such penalties are usually commuted to life in prison.

Earlier state media reports linked Zheng's case to a corruption probe centered on Huang Guangyu, an appliances tycoon who was once China's richest businessman. Huang was sentenced earlier this year to 14 years in prison for insider trading, bribery and other crimes.

Accusations of bribery, tax evasion and the collusion of corrupt officials in financial abuses are common in China.

The Xinhua report did not mention Huang or give specifics of Zheng's case. It said only that he "abused his various positions and accepted bribes worth more than $1.04 million (8.26 million yuan)" between 2001 and 2007.

The China Daily newspaper reported in July that Zheng allegedly sought personal gain by using his authority to help others looking for job promotions or employment and offered favors to people involved in criminal investigations.

Zheng directed the Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau under the Ministry of Public Security from 2001 to 2005 and became an assistant public security minister in 2005, Xinhua said.

A woman with the Ministry of Public Security's press office who refused to give her name said her department had no comment and referred calls to the Xi'an court, where the phone rang unanswered.

The Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper reported that Zheng was one of three assistant public security ministers who concurrently worked for former public security minister Zhou Yongkang. Zhou was promoted in 2007 to the Politburo Standing Committee, the country's most powerful body, and his minister position was filled by Meng Jianzhu.