Another top official falls from grace in Tianjin graft probes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2008, 12:00am

A deputy ministerial level official in Tianjin has been made the subject of Communist Party disciplinary action over corruption allegations, making him the latest official in the city to fall from grace.

Pi Qiansheng , 57, who was formerly in charge of Binhai New Area - Tianjin's answer to Shanghai's Pudong area- was placed under house arrest for two months, Caijing Magazine reported yesterday. His daughter Pi Xiaomeng , who works for Citibank, was arrested in August, the financial magazine said.

The disciplinary action, called shuanggui, is similar to house arrest. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection uses it on party members who are suspects to make them confess wrongdoings.

Tianjin has been dogged by scandals. Its higher court president, Zhang Baifeng, was investigated by the commission in June last year. Earlier, Song Pingshun, chairman of Tianjin's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, killed himself after a commission interview.

Song was closely involved with Wu Changshun, the former head of Tianjin police, who was detained two years ago for alleged bribery connected to property deals.

Mr Pi has spent almost his entire career in the port city. He is said to have close ties with Li Baojin, Tianjin's former chief prosecutor, who was dismissed in August last year for a 'severe breach of discipline'.

His arrest was largely expected after he was replaced last June by his former deputy for alleged property-related corruption.

After a number of corruption cases, Beijing sent a raft of new officials to Tianjin to clean up the city.

Tianjin, with a population of more than 10 million, is one of the mainland's four municipalities, which have the same status as a province. Binhai New Area, set up in the mid-1990s, has been part of the mainland's development strategy since 2006. It has permission to carry out experiments to spur development. Caijing sources said the new area developed at its fastest pace when Mr Pi was in charge.

But the sources also said his style of governance was criticised because he reportedly relied on people whose integrity was in question.