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Jinshan urban project official jailed for bribes

A Jinshan District official in charge of road construction was sentenced to six and a half years in prison today for taking 254,000 yuan (US$39,137) in bribes. Tao Guoqiang, 55, argued that 50,000 yuan of the accused bribes was actually borrowed for his home decoration and admitted to taking the rest illegally. "I didn't take bribes on purpose. If I refused to take the money, those who offered the cash would lose face," said Tao. Tao was former Party secretary of Jinshan District Urban Construction Management Office and director of Road Project Management Department. He was in charge of awarding road projects to contractors, the district prosecutors said. Tao was charged of taking advantage of his position to take 254,000 yuan in bribes, including two Rolex watches, from four construction companies from 2004 to 2008. "Tao was a powerful man in the eyes of contractors. I must get his help if I wanted to win a road project in the district," said a briber surnamed Zhang, who supplies tubes and pipes, in his testimony. Other bribers felt the same. After getting a project from Tao, they would give him cash or gifts to show gratitude. Tao admitted to three bribes at today's court hearing. As for the 50,000 yuan he took from a businessman surnamed Lu, Tao said he borrowed the money for home decoration. His defense was rejected by the Jinshan District People's Court because there was no IOU and Lu did get construction projects from him. Tao has returned all the bribes before he was detained. The court decided to give him a lenient punishment because he confessed to some bribes unknown to prosecutors and disclosed the crimes of another person, the judges said.

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