Corruption in China

Ex-Shanghai party boss to be prosecuted

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2007, 12:00am

Chen Liangyu stripped of posts

Former Shanghai party secretary Chen Liangyu will be prosecuted in the nation's highest-level corruption case in more than a decade following a 10-month investigation.

The powerful Politburo formally stripped Chen, 60, of his Communist Party membership yesterday as well as all his official posts, including his role as a National People's Congress deputy, state media said.

The authorities removed Chen from his position as the top leader of the mainland's commercial capital in September and detained him for his role in the embezzlement of more than 3 billion yuan from Shanghai's pension fund. More than 20 government and state company officials have been implicated.

An investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which probes corruption within the party, accused Chen of a litany of alleged crimes stretching back 20 years and attacked his character as 'morally degenerate' for trading sex and power. 'This caused great damage to the interests of the state and the people, greatly damaged the image of the party and had a profoundly evil impact on society,' Xinhua and state television said.

The announcement puts an end to speculation that Chen might escape punishment. He was the highest-level leader to be sacked for alleged corruption since former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong was removed in 1995.

Despite the charges of corruption, however, Chen's removal is widely viewed as a way for President Hu Jintao to eliminate a key member of the powerful 'Shanghai Gang' of political leaders who come from the city, including former president Jiang Zemin .

With charges stretching back to when Chen was head of Shanghai's Huangpu district in the late 1980s and throughout his political career, the move could be viewed as a dig at the previous administration as well. 'This shows the influence of the 'Shanghai Gang' is declining,' an Asian diplomat said.

Besides misappropriation of the pension fund, Chen and family members are accused of accepting 'huge' amounts of bribes. Chen allegedly abused his power to benefit himself, relatives and associates in the approval of projects, funding, investment co-operation and land planning, state media said, but gave no details. He also allowed private companies to buy shares in state firms, causing loss of assets.

He allegedly doled out promotions and shielded political cronies who broke the law. In a moral slur, state media said he 'dallied with women'. Chen is rumoured to have had at least 11 mistresses.

Analysts say he could face a long prison term or even the death penalty given the amount of money involved. The central government this month executed the former head of its food and drug administration, Zheng Xiaoyu , for accepting bribes in return for granting approvals, amid international criticism of the mainland's product safety.

The Communist Party stressed that Chen's case would be handled according to the law. It said his removal was a sign that the party was committed to fighting corruption.

'The investigation into Chen Liangyu's serious violations of disciplines is an affirmation of determination and the resolute position of the Communist Party to combat corruption,' state television said.

Rise and fall

October 2002 Chen Liangyu named Shanghai party secretary while at same time holding position of city mayor

November 2002 Became member of Communist Party Politburo

February 2003 Relinquished position of mayor to Han Zheng

September 2006 Removed as Shanghai party secretary

March 2007 Still addressed as 'comrade' at National People's Congress meeting

July 2007 Expelled from Communist Party and referred to judiciary for prosecution