Posted to China Law Lis on 13 May
14-year sentence given to Supreme People’s Court judge Wang Linqing last week.
A detailed report was published on Caixin Online’s Chinese version (see hyperlink below: may be behind a paywall).
Judge Wang was actually a whistleblower who claimed in 2018 that SPC Chief Justice Zhou Qiang and other senior SPC officials had illegally interfered on behalf of the defendants in a case that he was adjudicating, and that they had secretly ordered someone to steal the case file from Wang’s office to erase the evidence of their interference.
I have written in detail about this case in my forthcoming book, The Chinese Corporate Ecosystem, as an example of continuing distortion of some corporate law cases by politics and corruption.
The case was commonly referred to in the Chinese media as the ‘Billion-yuan Mining Rights Case’ because it involved the right to develop a huge coal reserve in Shaanxi worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Shaanxi Government reneged on its original contract with the plaintiff, a private corporation, in favour of a shady Hong Kong corporation with links to several Communist Party officials.
When the plaintiff corporation sued, the Shaanxi Government intimidated and detained its CEO, Zhao Faqi, and put direct pressure on the SPC to decide the case against the plaintiff. They claimed that upholding the contract would lead to the loss of state assets, but actually they had already virtually given away the mining rights to the shady private Hong Kong corporation, which then on-sold the rights to another HK company for a huge profit. It’s not clear where that money went.
The weird aspect of the case is that when Judge Wang revealed the illegal interference (which had occurred during the final SPC appeal in 2016), he seemed to assume that it was mainly the Shaanxi Government putting pressure on Zhou Qiang, who has close personal links with Shaanxi. After Judge Wang’s whistleblower videos and some court documents were published online by a CCTV host, Cui Yongyuan, the Central government did order a combined investigation by the Central Politics and Law Commission, the CDIC/NSC, and the Public Security Ministry. At the same time, they also detained the former Party Secretary of Shaanxi, Zhao Zhengyong, partly due to his role in this scandal, plus various other massive corruption scandals in Shaanxi. He was given a suspended death sentence in July 2020.
But despite this progress, the combined investigation came to a ludicrous conclusion that there was no illegal interference in the case by the SPC, and that Judge Wang had actually ‘stolen’ the case file from his own office in a fit of pique at being removed from judging the case. There are numerous logical inconsistencies and unanswered questions in the investigators’ report, which was published on the CDIC’s website in early 2019. Judge Wang was also forced to make a ‘confession’ of his wrongdoing on Chinese TV. Clearly some powerful Party leaders wanted to cover up the serious irregularities in the case and avoid any awkward questions about who actually profited from the expropriation and sale of the mining rights, and who was really in charge of the Shaanxi Government at the time when those events occurred (which was mainly between 2007 and 2012). I will leave list members to look up that information!
Anyway, after more than two years in detention, subject to harsh interrogations with little access to legal representation, Judge Wang was finally charged with receiving bribes of over 20 million yuan. The Caixin Online article is sympathetic to Wang, and indirectly suggests much of the evidence was concocted. For example, they note that several of the alleged bribes were given to Wang by lawyers during 2017-2018 seeking to influence his judgments, but by that stage Wang was no longer adjudicating cases, as he had been sidelined to administrative roles by 2017.
The other charge was revealing state secrets, because Judge Wang passed photographs of some SPC court documents to the CCTV reporter as part of his whistleblowing. A two-day trial was apparently held (but not reported) in late October 2021, and then the judgment was delivered last week. According to Caixin, Judge Wang appeared very agitated when the judgment was read out in court, and he told the reporters that he planned to appeal against the 14-year sentence.
I would be interested to know if any list members have further information about what is really going on behind the scenes here.
Link to Caixin Online report:
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