Military probes graft in construction projects

Updated: 2015-06-17 07:49

By Zhao Shengnan(China Daily)

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Two senior officers handed over to prosecutors; new rules to be issued

The military has launched a probe into building projects and property management and is moving closer to establishing long-term regulations for military construction as part of China's sweeping anti-graft drive.

The probe, begun this month, was closely followed by the military's announcement on Tuesday that two senior officials were removed for "serious discipline violations", common wording in corruption cases. It is the first time that a senior member of the armed police force has been named publicly as a suspect.

Kou Tie, former commander of the Heilongjiang Military Region, and Liu Zhanqi, a former communications division commander for the armed police force, were handed over to military prosecutors last month.

Liu had been the deputy chief of the paramilitary force's logistics department, which is in charge of housing projects and supply procurement.

The military, which is undergoing a modernization drive, has been a focus of the massive campaign to eradicate corruption. Issues related to military housing and logistics have been under a spotlight.

The probe will target buildings that were erected without permission, exceeded specifications or were illegally rented, the People's Liberation Army Daily said on Monday. The probe was approved by President Xi Jinping in his role as the chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Any construction projects or property matters that may be linked to suspected corrupt practices and affect troop buildup will be investigated, the newspaper said.

Timelines and road maps will be established to eradicate any "big problems left over from the past", it said, adding that any organizations or individuals that try to impede the probe will be exposed and held accountable.

The probe has included successful pilot programs among troops based in Liaoning province, PLA Daily reported, quoting an official from the PLA General Logistics Department.

After the probe, regulations to strengthen management will be issued, and long-term mechanisms covering project approvals, bidding and supervision will be created, it reported.

This is not the first time the military has investigated its housing projects. The PLA said in January that it would start a two-year operation against malpractice and corruption, due to lax supervision, in staff housing projects.

The military also ordered in March that barracks be built as simply and economically as possible.

Gong Fangbin, a military expert, told the media earlier this year that housing projects normally involve huge amounts of money and provide a "gray area" for corrupt officers to maneuver.

Several senior officers in the logistics departments have been removed, including former lieutenant general Gu Junshan, who was charged with embezzlement, bribery, misuse of state funds and abuse of power in March 2014.

During Gu's tenure as the deputy head of the PLA General Logistics Department, the military started large-scale building and renovation of troop accommodations.

Gu personally benefited from military real estate deals and building projects, Chinese magazine Caixin reported.

Reuters contributed to this story.

(China Daily 06/17/2015 page3)