BEIJING (AP) – A former deputy police minister accused of leading a crime ring of government officials was given a two-year suspended death sentence on Friday on charges of stock market manipulation, taking bribes and other offenses, Chinese state television reported. .
Sun Lijun’s conviction adds to a string of senior officials who have been punished in a marathon anti-graft crackdown launched after President Xi Jinping came to power in late 2012 that some say is politically motivated.
The final sentences come ahead of a meeting of the ruling Communist Party next month, where Xi is expected to try to break with tradition and grant himself a third five-year term as leader.
Sun was convicted by the court in the northeastern city of Changchun for collecting 646 million yuan ($91 million) in bribes, China Central TV reported on its website.
Sun was accused of using his official position in 2018 to manipulate stock trading to help a trader avoid losses. He was also accused of selling official jobs and leaving his position during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sun was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve. Such sentences can be commuted to imprisonment if the convict is deemed to have reformed. CCTV said that if Sun’s death sentence is commuted, he will be sentenced to life without parole.
A former justice minister and a former ruling party official accused of colluding with Sun were given similar sentences on Thursday.
Former Minister Fu Zhenghua pleaded guilty to taking bribes to cover up criminal activity. Earlier news reports accused him of joining “Sun Lijun’s political gang”.
Party official Wang Like was accused of taking 440 million yuan ($62 million) in bribes to help with business deals or obtain loans and jobs. He was accused of offering 97 million yuan ($14 million) in bribes to Sun and other officials.
The ruling party’s anti-corruption bureau accused Sun of “extremely inflated political ambition” last year. It said he engaged in unspecified “superstitious activities.”
Previously, Sun was named in a lawsuit by the US Department of Justice against casino mogul Steve Wynn in Las Vegas to force Wynn to register as a foreign agent over lobbying work he claims he conducted for the Chinese government.
The lawsuit says senior officials, including Sun, wanted Wynn’s help in trying to deny a Chinese citizen’s visa application, according to the complaint. Beijing wanted the man, who had been accused of corruption and had applied for political asylum, to return to China.