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.
Latest claims about Bo family wealth contradict earlier accounts
In March last year, Bo Xilai lashed out in public over accusations his family was wealthy and his son flaunted his lavish lifestyle, slamming the claims as "total nonsense".
Those assertions are now being contradicted by claims Bo and his defence are making in Jinan in Shandong , where he is standing trial.
"For decades, my wife [Gu Kailai] and I had no personal assets. She became a lawyer registered with the Ministry of Justice a long time ago. Her law firm in Dalian was also very successful. Some people slandered us, [saying] we made money through her law firm. Now, she has to stay at home as a housewife. I really appreciate her sacrifice," Bo told a press conference during the National People's Congress session in March last year.
He denied his family was paying his son's tuition fees at an overseas school or for his alleged lavish lifestyle. "It's total nonsense," he said, referring to rumours his son, Bo Guagua, drove a Ferrari. "His tuition fees are paid for with full scholarships."
Bo Guagua, 25, graduated from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government with a master's degree in public policy in May last year. He previously studied at Oxford University, and his mother accompanied him to Britain.
At the trial, Bo's defence presented a different version of the family's finances. "Gu Kailai had at least 40 million yuan in assets before going to Britain in 2000," one of his lawyer said. Gu, a renowned lawyer in the 1990s, was convicted of murdering Briton Neil Heywood and was given a suspended death sentence in August last year.
Bo's lawyer was responding to accusations he took 1.1 million yuan in bribes from Dalian businessman Tang Xiaolin . "I have six to seven safes … In a huge safe at our Beijing home, Gu Kailai kept lots of cash, much more than the US$80,000 and 50,000 yuan you were talking about," Bo said.
The court heard Gu owned a luxury villa in France, valued at €2.3 million (HK$23.8 million). Xu Ming, another Dalian businessman close to Bo's family, allegedly purchased the villa for her and also paid travel and other costs for her and her son.
"Obviously Bo Xiali was lying before. He lied for his own political purposes," said Li Chengyan, from Peking University's school of government.