China imprisons businesswoman in rail graft case

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BEIJING (AP) — A Beijing court on Tuesday sentenced a businesswoman linked to China's fallen ex-railway minister to 20 years in prison for bribery and interfering with bids for rail projects.

Ding Yuxin, formerly known as Ding Shumiao, illegally helped 23 companies win bidding for 57 projects and personally received 2 billion yuan ($330 million) for her efforts, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court said on its microblog.

Her actions severely disrupted the bidding system for railway contracts, the verdict said.

Ding, who only finished primary school, has been portrayed as a key intermediary for then-railways boss Liu Zhijun's corrupt dealings. Between 2004 and 2011, Ding offered some 49 million yuan in kickbacks to Liu, who helped her "illegally gain huge economic benefits," the court said.

Liu, known as the driving force behind China's bullet train network, was convicted last year of taking bribes and steering contracts to associates and received a suspended death sentence. A suspended death sentence in China is usually changed to life in prison after two years.

Ding was also fined 2.5 billion yuan ($410 million) and had assets worth 20 million yuan ($3 million) seized. She is at least the fourth person to be sentenced in relation to the Liu corruption scandal.

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