China 'sex-tape' official Lei Zhengfu jailed for 13 years

Lei Zhengfu attends his trial at a court in Chongqing municipality on 19 June 2013 Lei was accused of accepting bribes of around 3.16m Chinese yuan

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A Chinese official at the centre of a sex tape extortion scandal that became an internet sensation has been jailed for 13 years for accepting bribes.

Lei Zhengfu, formerly a senior official in China's Chongqing district, was sacked from his post after a sex tape featuring him was put online last year.

He has also been fined 300,000 yuan ($48,000; £32,000).

The investigation into his activities began after the release of the sex video which captivated public opinion.

Lei was also convicted of accepting bribes of around 3.16m Chinese yuan ($510,000; £330,000). His lawyer says he may appeal, Chinese state media reported.

A businessman who lured the official into the sexual encounter in order to blackmail him has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

At least 10 other officials have also been dismissed as a result of the scandal.

Moral degradation

Millions of people in China saw video clips posted on the internet of the portly, balding former Communist Party official having sex with a woman hired by property developers.

The 18-year-old woman involved had secretly recorded the video as part of an elaborate blackmail plot.

A woman holds up an anti-corruption sign  outside the court where Lei Zhengfu was tried (19 June 2013) Official corruption is becoming increasingly frowned upon in China

The lurid details of the affair have thrown a light on the links between sex, money and power in Chinese society, correspondents say.

Lei asked another property developer who had benefited from his patronage to pay hush money of 3m yuan to the blackmailers. He argued that the money was a loan, but prosecutors said the cash - not fully repaid - amounted to a bribe.

Prosecutors also said Lei took two other bribes in return for favours granted through his government position.

But it was the sex scandal and the scheme behind it that most disgusted the Chinese public, shocked by what they saw as the moral degradation of those in power.

Correspondents say that while at least 20 other party stalwarts have been caught up in the sex extortion scheme, Lei appears to have been singled out. Some analysts suggest he was given harsher treatment because of his notoriety among Chinese internet users.

The woman in the video with Lei was given a suspended two-year sentence.

The businessman, Xiao Ye, was found guilty of luring several officials into so-called "honey traps".

His idea was to use the videos to extort money or ensure favourable contracts for property developments, reports say.

The blackmail scheme was exposed by a blogger and investigative journalist, Zhu Ruifeng.

President Xi Jinping has made cracking down on corruption a key priority since becoming China's leader. It is a problem the Communist party has been unsuccessfully trying to stamp out for decades.

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