A formal investigation into the activities of the country's top energy regulator, Liu Tienan, has allegedly been launched by Beijing after a veteran journalist at a respected mainland magazine reported a series of allegations against him.
Liu, the director of the National Energy Administration, forged his CV and profited from his position using members of his family, according to Luo Changping, deputy managing editor of Caijing Magazine, one of the mainland's most influential business publications, which has a reputation for exposing corporate scandals.
Luo said Liu's wife and son were shareholders in a private company belonging to the mainland businessman Ni Ritao which allegedly used forged documents to obtain bank loans and transferred a "huge amount of money" to the son's personal bank accounts at HSBC.
The journalist said Liu's master's degree was an honorary degree rather than an earned credential.
He also accused Liu of having kept a mistress and threatening to kill her after they broke up.
Luo said on his Sina microblog: "Not only is this matter accepted, an investigation has been launched." He did not name the government authority he said had accepted his allegations.
"In the past two months, I have already completed the relevant proceedings to fulfil my responsibilities as an informer," Luo said.
He said he would refrain from commenting further on the matter before there was any official conclusion and announcement.
Luo first posted the accusations on his microblog last month.
Luo did not answer calls to his mobile phone. The energy administration's spokesman could not be reached.
A day before Luo first posted the accusations on his microblog, his magazine published a story saying Ni's company had borrowed more than US$200 million from a mainland bank to fund the acquisition of a Canadian pulp mill, with the help of an unnamed senior government official.
Liu is also a deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in charge of energy policymaking.
On China Central Television's evening news last night, Liu was shown sitting in the front row at an NDRC meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday. Liu is still listed on the NDRC's website as a deputy director.
A person close to Luo said the media would pay particular attention to whether Liu will turn up at the upcoming National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, where all top government officials are expected to be present.