Bo Xilai

160,000 party officials punished for corruption, according to graft watchdog

Watchdog refers to investigation into ex-Sichuan official and trials of Liu Zhijun and Bo Xilai

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 January, 2013, 4:55am

More than 160,000 Communist Party officials were punished last year - a 12.5 per cent increase from the year before, the party's graft watchdog said yesterday.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection's investigations also helped prevent 7.83 billion yuan (HK$9.64 billion) worth of economic losses for the country, according to Xinhua.

Separately, the party's disciplinary body said it had launched a formal investigation into Li Chuncheng , the former deputy party secretary of Sichuan province. Li was dismissed last month amid allegations of questionable real estate deals, making him the most senior person to be investigated since Xi Jinping became the party's new leader.

Disciplinary officials also mentioned two high-profile graft investigations currently in the hands of government prosecutors, involving disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai and former railways minister Liu Zhijun .

Liu, who oversaw the mainland's massive expansion of high-speed rail links, was removed from his post in 2011. He was later accused of committing serious economic crimes as well as political and moral wrongs.

The Xinhua article did not mention the specific charges against Bo. State prosecutors initiated the investigation into Bo in October, within hours of his formal expulsion from the national legislature.

Professor Zhang Ming , who teaches political science at Beijing's Renmin University, said he expected that Bo's eagerly awaited trial could begin in the next two months, before the new party leadership formally takes up top government offices in early March. But some legal experts cautioned that political factors could affect Bo's trial.

"Such political cases are heavily determined by the will of top leaders," said Zhang Yunzhang, a former director of Minzu University's law school.

"Given the importance of Bo's case, anything can be changed until the last minute."

Bo was suspended from his Politburo membership and placed under party investigation in April. In September, shortly before Bo's explusion from the legislature, Beijing announced that he had been expelled from the party and would face justice. He was accused of corruption, abuse of power, bribe-taking and improper relations with women.

His wife, Gu Kailai , was given a suspended death sentence in August for murdering British businessman Neil Heywood in late 2011.