BEIJING (AP) — A former vice police minister accused of leading a criminal gang of government officials was given a two-year suspended death sentence Friday on charges of stock market manipulation, bribery and other crimes, Chinese state television reported. mentionted.
Sun Lijun’s conviction adds to a string of senior officials who have been punished in a marathon anti-graft crackdown that began after President Xi Jinping took power in late 2012, which some see as politically motivated.
The latest sentences come ahead of a meeting of the ruling Communist Party next month, at which Xi is expected to try to break with tradition and award himself a third five-year term as leader.
Sun was convicted by a court in the northeastern city of Changchun of collecting 646 million yuan ($91 million) in bribes, China Central TV reported on its website.
Sun was accused of using his official position in 2018 to manipulate stock trading to help a trader avoid losses. He was also accused of selling official jobs and resigning during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sun was sentenced to death with two years suspended. Such sentences can be commuted to prison terms if the convict is found to have reformed. CCTV said that if Sun’s death sentence is commuted, he will be sentenced to life without parole.
A former justice minister and a former ruling party official accused of colluding with the Sun received similar sentences on Thursday.
Former minister Fu Zhenghua pleaded guilty to taking bribes to help cover up criminal activity. Earlier news reports accused him of joining “Sun Lijun’s political gang”.
Party official Wang Like was accused of taking 440 million yuan ($62 million) in bribes to help broker business deals or secure loans and jobs. He was accused of offering 97 million yuan ($14 million) in bribes to Sun and other officials.
The ruling party’s anti-corruption agency last year accused the Sun of having “grossly inflated political ambition”. He said he engaged in unspecified “superstitious activities.”
Earlier, Sun was named in a US Justice Department lawsuit against Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn to compel Wynn to register as a foreign agent over lobbying work he says he did for the Chinese government.
The suit alleges that senior officials, including Sun, wanted Wynn’s help in trying to get a Chinese national’s visa application rejected, according to the complaint. Beijing wanted the man, who was accused of corruption and sought political asylum, to return to China.