, BEIJING, Sept 5 – A Chinese official who became known as “Brother Watch” because of his taste for luxury timepieces was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday, reports said.
Yang Dacai first came under scrutiny from Chinese Internet users after he was pictured grinning broadly as he assessed the twisted wreckage of a bus and a methanol tanker following an accident which left 36 people dead last year.
The former work safety boss in the northern province of Shaanxi was later derided online after images of him wearing various luxury brand watches were tracked down and circulated.
The Intermediate People’s Court in Xian, Shaanxi’s provincial capital, imposed the sentence Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency said, following a one-day trial last week.
Yang was accused of having property worth 5.04 million yuan ($820,000) from unexplained sources and accepting 250,000 yuan in bribes, state broadcaster CCTV said.
He did not object to the charges and was also fined 50,000 yuan.
The trial followed an investigation by the ruling Communist Party’s discipline inspection commission, which found Yang guilty of “inappropriate ‘smiling face’ behaviour” and dismissed him from his post.
Yang is among a number of high profile officials brought down after being ridiculed in Internet chatrooms.
The leadership of the ruling party under President Xi Jinping has repeatedly pledged to crack down on corruption.
But authorities have recently launched a wide-ranging clampdown on “online rumours”, targeting scores of online companies, bloggers and journalists.
Hundreds of people are estimated to have been questioned or detained as a result.