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China toughens penalties for white-collar crime, industrial accidents

[JURIST] China has approved stiffer penalties for people responsible for industrial accidents and white collar crimes, state media said on Friday. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) [official website; government backgrounder] increased the maximum jail sentence from seven to 15 years for individuals who make employees work in dangerous conditions that ultimately result in industrial accidents, and also increased the fines and jail terms for individuals convicted of fraud and misreporting. In addition, the NPC broadened the definition of white-collar crimes to include actions that undermine financial markets and corporate administrations. Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao [official profile] on Friday called on member's of China's Communist Party to intensify the government's anti-corruption efforts [Xinhua report], during a ceremony marking the party's 85th anniversary.

A recent wave of corruption scandals and coal mine accidents prompted the tougher penalties in an effort to prevent future accidents and scandals. China has seen 827 people die in 52 major industrial accidents so far in 2006. In recent weeks, top naval officer Wang Shouye was fired [AP report] as a result of economic crimes charges, Anhui Vice Governor He Minxu was detained for taking bribes, and Beijing Vice Mayor Liu Zhihua was fired [Guardian report], allegedly for corruption and bad morals. Liu had been responsible for urban development leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Reuters has more. The China Daily has local coverage.

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