SPECIAL PLATES FOR RICH IN CHINA: Corruption in China is enabling the rich to get special state 'Jing-A' number plates - so the traffic cops know when to turn a blind eye... Image: AFP
BEIJING, China - A former head of Beijing's traffic management is being tried for handing out coveted car plates to the rich and receiving $4-million in bribe.
Song Jianguo is said to have accepted the yuan equivalent of R48-million in bribes through 2004-14, the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court was told.
During that period his posts included being director of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.
LEGAL PLATES HARD TO GET
He was accused of illegally handing out highly-prized Jing-A car plates, which start with the Chinese character for "capital". They are mostly used for government vehicles so police rarely intervene if their drivers violate traffic rules s are also regarded as a status symbol.
Even ordinary car plates have become difficult to obtain in Beijing since authorities introduced a lottery in 2011 to limit vehicle numbers and so counter air pollution and road gridlock.
Jing-A plates, however, are not available through the lottery and can only be issued with approval from one of a few high-level traffic officials - such as Song. His customers included vehicle rental bosses and property developers, the court statement added.
MONEY 'NOT BRIBES'
Song also introduced businesspeople to a gallery whose manager gave him half the value of their purchases, the Beijing Youth Daily reported on Tuesday (May 26 2015).
He received 15.3 million yuan through that route, the newspaper said, but denied in court that the money amounted to bribes.
China's ruling Communist Party has vowed to crack down on endemic corruption; several former senior figures have been under investigation in recent years but there have been no systemic reforms and critics say that, with tight controls on media and the judicial system, the campaign is open to being used for factional infighting.