Former China Mobile exec gets death sentence in bribery case

Zhang Chunjiang charged with taking more than $1.15 million in bribes

In the United States, it's relatively rare that a corporate executive pays a harsh price -- or any at all -- for malfeasance and corruption.

Apparently not so in China.

Zhang Chunjiang, former vice chairman of China Mobile, was sentenced to death Friday in a widely publicized bribery case involving that nation's telecoms, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

(Also see: China Mobile executive under investigation)

Which doesn't necessarily mean Zhang, who pleaded guilty to taking bribes while working for several state-run telecoms between 1994 and 2009, will be executed. The court that handed down the sentence gave him a two-year reprieve of his sentence. If he demonstrates "good behavior," the sentence could be bumped down to life in prison.

From the New York Times

At least seven other executives from China Mobile are under investigation in corruption cases, according to the nation’s state-run news media. And investigators are also looking into the role of several prominent Chinese businessmen, including Zeng Liqing, one of the founders of Tencent, a top Chinese Internet company, according to Caixin magazine, one of the nation’s most respected publications.

Zhang wouldn't be the first executive in China to be executed for crimes. In 2007, Zheng Xiaoyu, head of China's equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was executed on charges of corruption as the country grappled with serious food and drug safety problems.

State-owned China Mobile is the No. 1 mobile telecommunications company in the world, with more than 600 million subscribers.

The IDG article linked above notes that "corruption has remained a widespread problem in China." Good thing you don't see anything like that in the U.S. That would be intolerable!

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