A FORMER Chinese official with a penchant for luxury watches, who was pictured smiling at the scene of a deadly accident last year, was put on trial for corruption yesterday.
Yang Dacai, the former head of the work safety administration in Shaanxi Province, was dubbed “Brother Watch” by Chinese netizens after pictures of him wearing various luxury brand watches were circulated online.
The pictures showed Yang wearing 11 flashy watches — five of which cost a total of more than 300,000 yuan (US$49,000). Other pictures showed him wearing designer glasses and belts. His range of luxury watches was outside his means, given his government salary.
Yang came under scrutiny after he was pictured grinning broadly at the scene of a horrific road accident involving a bus and a methanol tanker that killed 36 people last year.
An investigation later by the Party’s discipline inspection commission found him engaged in serious disciplinary violations. He was sacked from his job last year.
At the trial yesterday, Yang was accused of having property worth 5.04 million yuan from unexplained sources, and accepting 250,000 yuan in bribes.
Yang did not object to the charges read against him by the prosecutors yesterday.
The state broadcaster CCTV said he was in fact smiling when he was accused of accepting bribes and owning property beyond his means.
“I have worked for government for dozens of years, but eventually fell into the abyss of crime,” Yang told the Xi’an City Intermediate People’s Court.
He expressed regret for hurting the Party, the government and his family, and appealed for a lighter sentence because he had admitted his guilt, a local news portal www.cnwest.com reported.
Prosecutors said Yang held family deposits of 11.77 million yuan, unimaginable for the income of a public servant. He had no explanation as to how he came to own properties worth 5.04 million yuan.
He told the court it was likely from his classmates or subordinates who gave him money during family holidays.
Prosecutors also accused Yang of taking 250,000 yuan in bribes to help a local technology company pass safety evaluation.
The company manager, surnamed Chang, paid 50,000 yuan as bribe during their first meeting in his office on May 2011.
In their later meetings in December 2011 and April 2012, Chang gave Yang 100,000 yuan each time.
Yang admitted taking the cash, but insisted he had declined them at first. He spent 50,000 yuan on his family and deposited the other 200,000 yuan in the bank.
A verdict for the trial, which ended yesterday with his guilty plea, has yet to be decided.
Yang was dismissed from his position as a member of the Shaanxi Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China in September 2012.
He was expelled from the Party and his case was transferred to judicial authorities in February.