Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
Old friend who ‘made millions due to favours’
An old colleague of Bo Xilai from his days as a factory worker during the Cultural Revolution has been drawn into the scandal surrounding the former Chongqing party boss.
Tang Xiaolin, who was sent to run a Dalian government-owned business in Hong Kong while Bo was the city's mayor, said in written testimonies and video presented to the Jinan court that he made millions of yuan thanks to favours from Bo.
In return, he was said to have paid Bo three separate bribes totalling 1.1 million yuan (HK$1.4 million).
Bo denied Tang's claims and called his old friend "an ugly person who has sold his soul".
According to testimony from both Bo and Tang, the pair worked together at a machinery maintenance factory in Beijing between 1972 and 1974 and "had kept a good relationship".
Tang said they kept in touch after he moved to another factory. Years later, Bo gave his old friend a tour of Zhongnanhai, the party's leadership compound in Beijing.
Tang arrived in Dalian in 1993 when Bo became mayor of the city in Liaoning province.
He told Bo he wanted to "seek refuge" with his old friend and worked as a clerk at a real estate company, Tang said.
On Bo's recommendation, he went to work for Hong Kong-registered Dalian International a year later and became general manager in 1999.
In 2000, Tang said, he sought Bo's approval for the transfer of the ownership of Dalian's representative office in Shenzhen to Dalian International, believing he could cash in with a commercial development on land allocated by Shenzhen authorities to the office.
Bo asked his subordinates to support the scheme. In 2002, as Liaoning's governor, Bo wrote to Shenzhen mayor Yu Youjun asking him to help push through the plan, Tang said. The development, Qiushi Plaza, was completed at the end of 2004 in partnership with developer Shenzhen Huaminghui, which bought an adjacent plot from the Shenzhen government.
The 5,000 square metre site, covering both plots of land, made Dalian International a 16 million yuan profit, while it also took control of three flats there.
Tang took two million yuan and US$10,000 in commission for himself. He thanked Bo by giving him US$80,000 in 2005 while Bo was commerce minister.
According to Tang's testimony, in 2002 he gave US$50,000 to Bo after the latter instructed his subordinates to approve a quota of 24 cars to be imported by Dalian International. Tang made 850,000 yuan by selling the quota to another company. Tang also said he gave Bo 50,000 yuan and some stationery in his office at the Ministry of Commerce in 2004 as he found Bo's residence to be "simple and crude".
Bo called Tang a "liar" and said he had been unaware of his real intention for the Shenzhen project. "Looking at the recording of Tang giving testimony just now, I saw an ugly person who has sold his soul. It had never occurred to me [he would do so]."
Tang is the second Dalian entrepreneur to be drawn into the case after property tycoon Xu Ming, who remains in custody over his dealings with Bo. There is no indication of whether Tang will face charges himself.