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Capital punishment available for worst 'graft' cases in China

The maximum penalty for embezzlement or accepting bribes in China will be the death penalty, state-owned news site Xinhua has reported.21 Apr 2016

Embezzlement or bribes worth three million yuan ($463,000) or more in "extremely serious cases" with "extremely vile impact" will be subject to the penalty, according to a judicial explanation issued this week, Xinhua reported.

According to the news site a two-year suspended death sentence will be available if there are mitigating circumstances, and in lesser cases courts may impose a life sentence without commutation or parole.

The ruling supplements the Chinese Criminal Law, with was updated last year to make conviction and sentencing more flexible in embezzlement and bribery cases. The original law set the minimum value for criminal prosecution at 5,000 yuan ($771), which was now considered to be too low due to inflation and income increases.

The law now categorises crimes based on whether they involve over 30,000 yuan, over 200,000 yuan and over three million yuan.

The severity of the crime will also be taken into consideration, in terms of how many people have been affected by it, Xinhua said.

The new law also clarified the stance on certain scenarios.  For example an official who learns that a family member or close colleague has accepted bribes must return or report these or be considered complicit, it said.

"Donating dirty money to charity groups or using it for a public cause will not reduce the severity of the crime," the news agency said.