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Lights Out for Corrupt Tian'anmen Official

May 3, 2013
Translated by Pang Lei

An official in charge of managing the area around Beijing's Tian'anmen Square has been sentenced to over 10 years in prison after he pocketed the proceeds from selling off the old metal casings that once formed the foundations of the square's ornate lights.

Last month, Li Yongjun (李拥军), the former deputy director of the Tian'anmen Regulatory Commission General Services Center (天安门管委会综合服务中心), was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in prison on corruption charges following his decision to pocket money made from selling off almost 8 tons of metal from the lights that adorn the large square at the center of Beijing, according to a report in the Beijing News.

In August 2012, while the fittings and poles of the large lights in and around Tian'anmen Square were being upgraded, Mr. Li allowed a scrap metal trader named Fang Zhijun (方志军) - who also happened to be a poker buddy of Li's - to steal 7.9 tons of metal, including copper taken from the old light casings from a warehouse. Mr. Fang later sold the metal for 250,000 yuan, keeping 50,000 yuan for himself and Mr Li kept the rest of the money for himself..

Li Yongjun said that he held on to the proceeds because he "didn't have any money to eat, drink alcohol or play cards."

According to the report, Li managed to spend 20,000 yuan before the police caught up with him about a month after the metal was stolen.

Links and Sources
Beijing News: 副主任“没钱打牌”卖华灯基座
Beijing Youth Online: 天安门广场华灯换新杆


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