Former Chinese oil execs convicted

BEIJING: The former chairman of China's second-largest oil company, Sinopec, was convicted Wednesday of corruption and taking bribes and received a suspended death sentence, state TV reported.

Chen Tonghai was convicted of illegally receiving 190 million yuan ($27 million), China Central Television said on its Web site. Chen resigned abruptly as Sinopec chairman in June 2007 and was later expelled from the ruling Communist Party.

Chen joins a string of high-level Chinese officials and leaders of state industry who have been convicted of corruption. Chinese leaders see simmering public anger over official abuses as a threat to communist rule and have launched repeated crackdowns.

Chen was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve by the No. 2 Beijing Intermediate People's Court, CCTV said. Such sentences usually are commuted to life in prison if the convict is deemed to have repented.

The government has released no details of Chen's offenses and the report Wednesday gave no additional information.

Sinopec, also known as China Petroleum & Chemical Co., is Asia's biggest oil refiner by volume and China's second-biggest oil company after China National Petroleum Corp.

Hong Kong newspapers reported earlier that Chen's case might have been a factor in the surprise resignation of China's then-finance minister, Jin Renqing, in August 2007. One report said Jin introduced Chen to a woman who became Chen's mistress.