Former FAW-VW exec sentenced to life for accepting $5.3 million in bribes

UPDATED: April 9 14:45 CET - adds VW comment

BEIJING (Reuters) -- A former top executive at Volkswagen's China joint venture with FAW Group, Shi Tao, was sentenced to life in prison for accepting bribes, state media reported. The sentence is the latest development in corruption investigations involving FAW.

Shi, former deputy general manager of FAW-Volkswagen Sales Co., was convicted for taking 33 million yuan ($5.3 million) in bribes, state-owned Shanghai Daily reported today, citing a court in northeast China's Jilin province.

In exchange for the bribes, Shi helped advertisers and car dealers obtain business orders from FAW-Volkswagen, the report said.

The executive accepted bribes from 48 individuals and companies from 2006 and amassed 26.7 million yuan in property derived from unclear sources before being discovered in a 2013 audit.

Volkswagen said in an emailed statement that it was aware of the case. "Globally, Volkswagen is strictly against any kind of illegal conduct, and attaches great importance that all applicable anti-corruption laws are adhered to," it said.

Calls to the court went unanswered.

FAW Group owns 60 percent of the joint venture, while VW owns 40 percent. Volkswagen additionally has a joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp.

The Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said last month FAW Group's chairman was under investigation for "violating party discipline," a euphemism for corruption.

FAW Group, parent to FAW Car Co., also has joint ventures with Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors in China.

A corruption crackdown at state-owned companies like FAW Group is part of a larger campaign by China's President Xi Jinping to fight graft as well as reform state companies.

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