Beijing roads chief ‘took enormous bribes’

China's ruling Communist party has expelled a senior official in charge of highway construction and management in Beijing for taking “enormous bribes”.

The allegations against Bi Yuxi, chairman of Capital Road Development, the state-owned highway operator, underline the difficulties Beijing faces in cracking down on corruption amid a surge in infrastructure development before the 2008 Olympics.

Capital Road, an arm of the city government, is responsible for building and managing Beijing's highways and ring-roads, including such Olympic-related projects as a new airport link.

State media said that between 1994 and 2003 Mr Bi took advantage of his roles as head of Capital Road and deputy chief of the municipal transport department to help others win personal advantage from road building and other projects.

The Beijing Youth Daily said: “He himself took enormous bribes many times; Bi Yuxi's morals were ruined and his lifestyle became corrupt and degenerate.” The paper gave no details.

It said party authorities had stripped Mr Bi of his membership. Expulsion is a standard punishment for officials who fall from grace, and is often quickly followed by harsher legal penalties.

In spite of repeated crackdowns, corruption is widespread in China where the state has a leading role in the economy and poor law enforcement gives officials opportunities to barter their influence for financial gain.

Government investigators have examined more than 20,000 corruption cases this year, according to Jia Chunwang, procurator-general of China's Supreme People's Procuratorate. More than 700 cases involved more than Rmb1m ($121,000) and 1,690 of those investigated were officials of county magistrate or higher level, the official China Daily quoted Mr Jia as saying.

Leaders have warned that endemic graft could threaten the party's survival but even those in charge of monitoring corruption have been linked to misconduct.

The chief Communist party discipline inspector in central Hunan Province was accused last month of economic crimes. Concerns about the extent of corruption have been heightened by the pace of infrastructure development, particularly as Beijing prepares for the Olympics.

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