More details about a graft probe into former Shenzhen vice-mayor Liang Daoxing emerged yesterday after party disciplinary authorities in Guangdong formally announced last week that he was under investigation for corruption.
Guangdong and Shenzhen disciplinary authorities have remained tight-lipped about their probe of the 63-year-old former deputy mayor, but mainland newspapers have started pointing fingers at the four years Liang spent in charge of the preparation and construction work for the World University Games, which were held in Shenzhen last year and are also known as the Universiade.
In particular, newspapers have highlighted a link between Liang and Xu Zongheng, the former Shenzhen mayor who was implicated in the Games scandal and received a suspended death sentence in May last year.
Liang resigned his position as vice-mayor in February 2009, just four months before Xu was arrested, but remained in charge of the Universiade preparations until the Games closed. The massive bill that Shenzhen paid for the Games has been a persistent subject of controversy in the city, and the government has yet to say exactly how much was spent on the Games, though an audit report of the competition is expected by the end of this month.
"Liang has been publicly praised many times by disgraced mayor Xu Zongheng as 'the hero of the Universiade'," Beijing News reported yesterday, citing government sources as saying that the investigation into Liang may be linked to a misappropriation of Universiade funds.
"Many operational works were outsourced [at a price much higher than the market average]," the newspaper said, adding that staff from the Universiade's executive board were quoted by reporters as saying that a buffet meal for journalists was outsourced for more than 200 yuan (HK$247) a head.
The official announcement of the investigation into Liang came five months after two sources close to the city government told the Sunday Morning Post that Liang had been taken away for "discipline inspection".
Liang's subordinate, Zhao Guanghua , deputy chief of the Shenzhen Universiade's executive board, was also placed under investigation in July this year. China Business News reported yesterday that Zhao worked as Liang's subordinate for 19 years in Shenzhen.
Besides Zhao and Xu, at least four other senior Shenzhen officials were placed under investigation between 2009 and May this year for alleged corruption linked to the Universiade.
Mainland media have also reported that Liang was accused by his subordinates of corruption and misconduct as early as 2001, when he was the party boss of Shenzhen's Nanshan district. Wen Xuan , who was the district's propaganda chief at the time, wrote a three-sentence slogan on the district government's car park twice in 2001 criticising Liang, Southern Metropolis Daily reported.