China convicts six in social security scandal-report

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BEIJING, Sep 24 (Reuters) China jailed six ex-officials and business executives who were part a web of graft that toppled a Communist Party chief of Shanghai, a Hong Kong paper reported today, promising more sentences ahead of a key Party meeting.

The six were sentenced to jail terms from three years to life yesterday for taking or giving bribes and abusing Shanghai's social security funds, the mainland-controlled Ta Kung Pao reported.

They belonged to a web of suspected corruption centred on Chen Liangyu, the former Party secretary of Shanghai who was sacked in September 2006 and now faces criminal investigation.

With his grip on China's financial centre, Chen had bucked at the authority of President Hu Jintao, who is set to gain another five years as national Party chief and consolidate his authority at a congress opening in mid-October.

The paper said more convictions in the social security scandal were likely before the Party conclave -- a warning that Hu wants wayward officials and potential rivals to fall into line.

''Conclusion of trials in the Shanghai social security cases is rapidly picking up pace, and there is hope that the linked cases will be fully concluded before the National Day holiday,'' the paper said. The holiday starts on October 1.

The men were tried in Changchun, a city in northeast China far from Shanghai, to avoid any interference with the trials. Other trials have been held in Anhui province in eastern China and Shanghai itself, the paper said.

The Hong Kong paper said that courts had been handling cases against 27 accused, including the six sentenced. Sources have told Reuters that Chen himself is likely to face trial after the Party congress.

The convictions over the weekend included Zhu Junyi, former director of the Shanghai Bureau of Labour and Social Security, who was jailed for 18 years for taking bribes of 1.6 million yuan and misappropriating over a billion yuan in public funds.

Wu Minglie, the former chairman of New Huangpu Real Estate Co.

one of Shanghai's largest property developers, was given life for taking bribes of 10 million yuan the paper said.

REUTERS AK PM0710

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