Chinese ‘smiling’ official gets jail for graft

Beijing: A top Chinese official who flaunted a range of expensive watches and was filmed “smiling” at a fatal accident in which 36 people were killed, was on Thursday sentenced to 14 years in prison for indulging in corruption.

Yang Dacai, former head of northwest China’s Shaanxi province’s work safety administration, was found guilty of taking bribes and holding a large amount of unaccounted property by the Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court. Dacai first came under scrutiny of Chinese internet users after he was pictured smiling as he assessed the twisted wreckage of a bus and a methanol tanker following an accident which left 36 people dead in August last year. He earned the tag of “Brother Watch” after images of him wearing various luxury brand watches were tracked down and circulated.

Pictures posted online showed him wearing 11 flashy watches — five of which were together worth more than 300,000 yuan (USD 48,000)an expert said.

Other images showed him in designer glasses and belts. Although Dacai claimed he purchased the watches with his own salary, netizens argued the public servant could not possible have afforded such expensive items. (PTI)