Former head of China’s CNPC jailed for 16 years for graft

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A Chinese court has sentenced Jiang Jiemin, one of the most senior officials to be charged with graft during a two-year anti-corruption campaign, to 16 years in jail, state television said on Monday.

Mr Jiang’s detention in August 2013 kicked off the anti-corruption campaign that has decimated the Chinese oil industry and destroyed the patronage base of Zhou Yongkang, the formerly powerful energy and security tsar. Mr Zhou was handed a life sentence in June after a secret trial.

The anti-corruption drive has been accompanied by a consolidation of power and crackdown on civil society under Xi Jinping, the head of China’s ruling Communist party. Mr Zhou had backed Bo Xilai, the charismatic princeling who failed in his attempt to join the top ranks of the party shortly before Mr Xi took power.

It has also given unusual insight into the patronage networks that Chinese officials build as they climb through the ranks of state-owned companies, provincial governments and ministries in Beijing. After a career in oil, Mr Zhou developed networks of mining and energy businessmen in Sichuan province, before rising to command the feared security apparatus.

At the time of his detention Mr Jiang headed State-Owned Assets Supervision Administration Commission, or Sasac, which overseas China’s most influential state-owned companies. He spent most of his career at China National Petroleum Corp, parent of listed PetroChina, which Mr Zhou also once headed. Dozens of CNPC executives have been detained or investigated.

CNPC’s chief rival, state-owned oil company Sinopec, has also been touched by the purge. Last week Fujian provincial governor Su Shulin became the first standing governor to come under investigation. He had served as head of Sinopec from 2007-2011, replacing a previous chief who was ousted for corruption after allegations that he had approved a $1.8m chandelier at the company’s newly built Beijing headquarters. Sinopec denied the chandelier cost that much.

The anti-corruption campaign has proved popular with Chinese people tired of shakedowns by police and the flaunting of wealth by officials’ families. But it has also reduced demand for high-end luxury goods and even moderate spending on restaurants and consumer goods, as government bureaus and state-owned enterprises cut spending to avoid the appearance of corruption.

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