A Chinese court has jailed for life a former high-ranking intelligence official for taking bribes, coercive business deals and insider trading.
Ma Jian, previously the vice minister of the state security bureau, is one of the most senior security officials to be jailed since the former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang was ensnared in a corruption scandal and jailed for life in 2015.
“Ma Jian’s behaviour constituted the crime of accepting bribes, forcing others to trade and insider trading,” the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in Liaoning province announced in a statement on Thursday.
He was also ordered to pay more than $7.26m in penalties.
The court said Ma, who was tried behind closed doors, used his political power to aid the business operations of Guo Wengui, a real estate billionaire wanted by Chinese authorities.
The New York-based Guo has published a slew of online videos in which he makes sensational allegations of corruption in the upper echelons of China’s ruling Communist Party.
The court said it reached the verdict on the grounds that Ma had taken a “particularly enormous” amount of bribes, and that his collaboration with Guo’s company was “particularly serious”.
Ma had used his position to conspire with Guo and to help businesses Guo controlled by using threats to bring about illegal transactions such as compelling individuals to transfer company shares, the court said.
Ma had received more than 100m yuan ($14.56m) in property for his work and earned nearly 5m yuan ($728,248) from trading stocks based on insider information, it added.
Ma pleaded guilty and has decided not to appeal, the court said in its statement, adding that his political rights have been revoked for life and all his personal assets confiscated.
It was not possible to contact Ma for comment. Guo could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to the South China Morning Post, Ma worked at the spy agency for more than 30 years and was promoted to deputy minister of counter-intelligence operations in 2006.
Ma was put under investigation for corruption in 2015 and expelled from the Communist Party the following year after prosecutors accused him of interfering in unspecified law enforcement activities
Dozens of senior officials have been investigated or jailed since President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012, vowing to root out corruption and warning that the problem threatens the Communist Party’s grip on power.
The initiative has won Xi broad popularity among the general public, but his critics – Guo included – have called the crackdown a convenient way to eliminate political enemies.