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Chinese official with home in Walnut is charged with taking bribes

September 04, 2013|By Barbara Demick | This post has been corrected, as indicated below
  • In a previous corruption case tied to China's railroad system, this screen grab taken from CCTV footage in shows former Railroad Minister Liu Zhijun, right, standing trial in Beijing.
In a previous corruption case tied to China's railroad system, this… (CCTV / Agence France-Presse…)

HUNCHUN, China -- The Chinese railroad official whose house in the Los Angeles suburb of Walnut drew the attention of anti-corruption investigators has been charged with accepting nearly $8 million in bribes, state media reported.

Zhang Shuguang, 57, is alleged to have taken the money from contractors building China’s high-speed rail lines. His indictment follows the conviction in June of former Railroad Minister Liu Zhijun, who was handed a suspended death sentence for accepting more than $10 million.

The 57-year-old Zhang was fired as deputy chief engineer from the Railroad Ministry in 2011. His case is well known in China because he became the leading example of what is called a “naked official’’ --  somebody who buys a home abroad and sends his family away in hopes of making a quick escape from China.

Photographs of his five-bedroom, five-bath Mediterranean home in Walnut, valued at $840,000, have been widely distributed on Chinese news sites.

Zhang was also recently in the news because the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating JP Morgan’s hiring of his daughter, Zhang Xixi, at its Hong Kong office. The investigation reportedly concerns whether her employment helped the bank win business with companies involved with the railroad.

State media reported Wednesday that Zhang took bribes to award contracts to companies that overcharged the government. Examples cited include a $184 box of sanitation paper and a $2,000 faucet.

"Many domestic railway equipment producers would wait outside his home to offer him incentives to award them contracts," the Beijing Evening News reported.

The bribes allegedly were taken between 2001 and 2011, a decade of rapid development in the high-speed rail lines. Zhang was considered a pioneer of the high-speed technology.

[For the record: 9:25 p.m., Sept. 4: In an earlier version of this post, Zhang Shuguang's name was misspelled. Also, the dateline was incorrect.]

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barbara.demick@latimes.com

Twitter: @BarbaraDemick

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