China sacks nuclear chief

August 14, 2009 12:00 am

, BEIJING, Aug 14 – China has sacked a top nuclear power official, state press said Friday, following reports he was being probed for allegedly squandering public funds and taking bribes of up to 260 million dollars.

Kang Rixin, born 1953, was removed as party secretary and general manager of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation due to possible involvement in "grave violations of discipline", the Xinhua news agency reported.

Chinese authorities often use the term "discipline violations" to mean acts of corruption.

Sun Qin, 56, has been appointed to take over from Kang, it said, citing an unnamed official with the Communist Party’s Central Organisation Department.

Sun is currently a deputy chief of China’s National Energy Administration, it added.

Authorities are probing the possibility that Kang took bribes from French nuclear power giant Areva to win an eight-billion-euro (11.9 billion dollars at the time) contract for a project in south China, previous Chinese media reports said.

He also allegedly traded on the stock market large amounts of public funds earmarked for the construction of three nuclear power plants, suffering huge losses when the market crashed last year, the report said.

China’s President Hu Jintao has repeatedly warned that corruption is one of the greatest threats to the legitimacy of Communist Party rule and courts often hand down harsh sentences to make an example of offenders.

In the latest demonstration that the Party takes the problem seriously, Li Peiying, the former head of the company that owns Beijing Capital International Airport, was executed last week.

Li, 60, was convicted of bribery and embezzlement totalling nearly 16 million dollars.

The former head of oil giant Sinopec, Chen Tonghai, was handed a suspended death sentence in July after being found guilty of corrupt practices.

The mayor of the southern boom town of Shenzhen, Xu Zongheng, has been under investigation for corruption since his removal from office in June.


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