China's Sinopec urges tightening of corruption laws

Chinese refinery giant Sinopec is urging the Beijing government to tighten corruption laws and “severely punish” lawbreaking foreign businesses.

The call came alongside an admission that an employee had been dismissed by the company in 2004, and subsequently sent to prison, for taking bribes from Daimler, the German car company currently under investigation for widespread overseas corruption by the US authorities.

“We urge and hope the government will effectively exert its jurisdiction and severely punish those multinationals and merchants audaciously challenging Chinese laws,” Sinopec said in a statement today.

The Daimler case under investigation in the US covers tens of millions of dollars-worth of payments to government officials in 22 countries in the decade to 2008. After a five-year investigation the proposed settlement - not yet confirmed by a judge – will include the company paying a $185m settlement and two subsidiaries pleading guilty

Daimler is not the only high-profile corruption case involving China at the moment. A Shanghai court is set to rule on Monday in the case of four Rio Tinto employees accused of bribery and espionage. Stern Hu, an Australian national, and two other Chinese defendants admitted at the start of last week that they had taken bribes from Chinese steel mills during negotiations over iron ore prices. The four – who were first detailed last July - face prison sentences of up to five years if found guilty, although some analysts suggest that the guilty pleas may be part of a plea bargain.