Politician at centre of Sichuan graft probe 'helped relatives, friends, secure lucrative land deals'

Li Chuncheng, detained on suspicion of graft, helped arrange lucrative property purchases for friends and relatives, newspaper report says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 3:13pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 2:53am

Li Chuncheng, the former deputy Communist Party chief in Sichuan province who is under investigation for corruption, allegedly used his power to help relatives and friends buy land cheaply, according to a media report.

Li's brother bought land near the site of an administrative centre in Chengdu before the project was officially announced and later sold the plots for four times the price, The Beijing News said.

Li, who is a close ally of the retired national security tsar Zhou Yongkang - believed also to be under investigation for graft - helped businessmen from Heilongjiang province buy cheap land and secure government contracts in the city, the newspaper reported.

Li Chuncheng used his position to seek benefits for others and received a large amount of bribes
Anti-graft authorities

The Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, announced in April Li would be stripped of his official titles and party membership after a prolonged investigation. Details were first announced in December 2012.

"Li Chuncheng used his position to seek benefits for others and received a large amount of bribes," a statement from the commission said. "His wife and daughter received large amounts of goods from other people and Li abused his position to help his brother's business," it said.

Li's brother, Li Chunming, owned several property companies in Chengdu with other relatives, according to the newspaper. The companies were little known, but highly successful in securing land with huge appreciation potential, said the report.

Li's brother bought several hundred mu of land near the city's new administrative centre for 500,000 yuan (HK$629,000) per mu before the scheme was formally announced. He resold the land slots for 2 million yuan per mu, the newspaper said. There are 15 mu to one hectare.

The Beijing News said Li had extensive contacts in Heilongjiang, as he had studied and worked there for over two decades. This allegedly allowed him to help businessmen from the northeastern province secure lucrative deals. Li graduated from the Harbin Institute of Technology in 1978 and was deputy mayor of Harbin before moving to Sichuan in 1998.

The newspaper also reported that Li had provided help and allegedly received bribes from two local tycoons who have been detained by the authorities.

He is also alleged to be involved in corruption linked to the Pengzhou petrochemical project in Sichuan, a scheme that led to protests from residents when it was announced. Several officials involved in the project have already been detained.

Li also frequently consulted a fortune teller, who might have affected his decisions about the location and design of government projects, the newspaper said.

The commission's statement said Li had misused his position to engage in "feudal and superstitious activities" which had caused the state financial losses.