According to recent articles in the Beijing Evening News and other Chinese independent and state-run media, Wei Qingfu, a space expert and former general manager of Space Jinhui High-Tech Company, was in Beijing Number One Secondary People's Court last week, charged with the embezzlement of over CNY10 million in public money and pocketing of another CNY5 million in state assets. This is in connection with the importation and purchasing of Intel computer chips.

Ironically, Wei, 63, who is currently a director of PICMG China Association, has made considerable contributions to the development of the Chinese Anti-Counterfeit Tax Control System during his work as team leader for the State Anti-Counterfeit Tax Control System Developing Team. He was brought to court just before his retirement primarily due to circumstances surrounding the importing of chips from Intel for Jinhui High-Tech Co., Ltd.

Wei worked as general manager of Jinhui from 1996-1999. During that time, he reportedly colluded with his assistant Luo Jiazeng, intentionally fixing a higher price on the contracts when purchasing materials for the company, then asking various sellers to return the additional money back to him after the transaction.

From late 1999 till April 2000, he is accused of accumulating CNY1.32 million in the same way when buying chips from Intel. It is reported that, in the chips agent sector, it is common practice that 3% of the total quotation is refunded to the client. Wei Qingfu accepted all the refunded payment and invested it in another company. However, he denied that he intended to take the money as his own, arguing that he had used part of it for company business.

There has been no comment from Intel on this case, and it is unclear to what extent the company knew, or should have known, about Wei's activities and the 3% refund. These charges against Wei Qingfu come on the heels of the recent dismissal of four top staff from America-based Lucent in the face of bribery charges.

American companies, unlike many European and Asian couterparts, are required to adhere to American anti-bribery and kickback laws that govern their actions wherever they do business in the world. If Wei Qingfu is found guilty of taking bribes from Intel, the chip giant can be liable under American law.

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