Chinese corruption probe causes suicide

A SENIOR civil aviation official has committed suicide due to ongoing investigations into corruption of civil aviation officials. Liu Yajun (right), head of the Central and Southern Regional Administration (CSRA) of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), leapt in front of an oncoming train.

Liu accepted the post in February 2009. His colleagues at the CSRA claim it unlikely that he was directly involved in any corruption, more that he was suffering stress from internal politics and the rapidly increasing investigation, which has already claimed the jobs of four senior officials at the CAAC.

The investigation has uncovered a massive amount of bribes amongst the “invisible supermen” of the domestic aviation industry, going back 20 years.

Huang Gang, former executive vice-president at Beijing airport, and Pang Hanzhang, a broker who handled airlines seeking access to Beijing routes, both demanded “air rights coordination fees” of around US$750,000 to award lucrative landing rights at the airport. The investigation was launched after a routine government audit of China Southern found almost US$30 million allocated to these ‘fees’.

Also implicated was broker Wei Jingbo of Lianzhou Aviation Services. Wei was one of the so-called Four Kings of Yabao Road, a famous market area in Beijing that bloomed once international freight began flying in 1993. Wei’s network of contacts in the CAAC smoothed customs clearance and air traffic rights.

The investigation continues.

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