Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign

China begins prosecution of former senior spy on corruption charges

Ma Jian, who was a deputy minister of state security, is accused of graft and abuse of power

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 12:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 12:03am

A former Chinese spy chief has been ­formally detained and will be prosecuted for suspected graft, the state prosecutor announced on Monday.

The announcement about Ma Jian, the former executive deputy minister at the Ministry of State Security, came a week after billionaire Xiao Jianhua left Hong Kong to travel to the mainland to “assist in the investigation” into Ma’s case, sources said.

In a brief statement, the ­Supreme People’s Procuratorate said Ma was suspected of taking bribes and had been subjected to “coercive measures” – a term that usually refers to detention. The prosecutor had formally started proceedings against him and a criminal investigation was under way, the statement said.

China to prosecute former senior spy chief for corruption

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection earlier ­accused him of taking bribes, abuse of power and using his­ ­influence to interfere in law ­enforcement activities.

He had also obstructed investigations and tried to transfer and hide financial assets, it said. He was expelled from the Communist Party in December, according to the agency. Ma led counter-espionage ­operations at the ­ministry, the intelligence agency that monitors both citizens and foreigners on the Chinese mainland.

His detention, which the South China Morning Post first reported in January last year, led to revelations about massive abuses of power and political jockeying within the intelligence agency.

The 60-year-old is the highest-ranking national security official to be investigated since the downfall of security tsar Zhou Yongkang.

Chinese spy chief Ma Jian detained as corruption crackdown widens

While working for more than 30 years at the spy agency, Ma built up ties with former presidential aide Ling Jihua and several prominent businessmen, setting the stage for his eventual downfall.

Ma was implicated in a high-profile graft probe into Founder Group, a technology conglomerate owned by Peking University. He is believed to be close to its former chief executive, Li You, who sources said had financed hugely profitable securities trades carried out by one of Ma’s relatives.

Li, who was jailed for four-and-a-half years for insider trading in November, was also linked to Ling and had paid large bribes to his family, the Post reported earlier, citing sources. Ling is now behind bars for life for corruption

Ma was also associated with controversial tycoon Guo Wengui, the controlling shareholder in Beijing Zenith Holdings and Beijing Pangu ­Investment who had a bitter spat with Li.

Guo first came under the spotlight over his bidding for a landmark property project near Beijing’s Olympic stadium in 2006, during which he toppled then Beijing deputy mayor Liu Zhihua with a compromising sex tape.

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Mainland financial magazine Caixin reported in 2015 that Guo obtained the tape with Ma’s help and they conspired during Guo’s rise to riches – which he denied.

Guo resurfaced recently after nearly two years of silence to deliver a video interview with overseas Chinese media Mingjing, accusing an incumbent deputy public security minister of corruption.