A senior district official in Chengdu has alleged that recently disgraced former Sichuan deputy party secretary Li Chuncheng offered bribes for promotion, sold official positions to incompetent candidates and made his wife head of Chengdu's Red Cross after it received huge sums following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Legal Daily yesterday quoted Shen Yong, director of the Chengdu district's United Front Work Department, as saying that Li had offered a huge bribe in the early 1990s to then-Heilongjiang deputy party boss Han Guizhi to win a promotion, had sold a large number of official positions after being appointed Chengdu's party chief in 2003, and had made staggering profits by colluding with developers and pushing ahead with unnecessary city redevelopment projects.
Han was given a suspended death penalty in 2005 for selling government jobs and corruption.
The newspaper said Qu Songzhi, Li's wife and deputy chairwoman of Chengdu's Red Cross, was also being investigated for graft, together with four other Red Cross staff. However, mainland news portals were ordered to delete similar reports yesterday afternoon, because they "involved too many officials".
Li, 56, was believed to be the first ministerial-level official to be investigated following the Communist Party's national congress last month.
At the congress, he became an alternate member of the party's Central Committee.
"Li Chuncheng offered tens of thousands of yuan in bribes to notoriously corrupt official Han Guizhi in the late 1990s, when she was Heilongjiang's deputy party chief," Shen said. "The size of the bribe would be equal to one million yuan (HK$1.2 million) today.
"By offering bribes, Li was promoted from party boss of Harbin's Communist Youth League committee to Harbin's vice-mayor, and then Chengdu mayor, Chengdu party boss and finally Sichuan deputy party boss."
Shen said he had reported the allegations against Li to party disciplinary authorities in 2008, but that Li had remained untouched until this month.
"To get his bribe money back, Li sold off official positions like crazy to incompetent candidates from 2003," he said. "The city's party cadres all felt that officials were promoted according to the size of the bribes they could offer."
The newspaper said Li, nicknamed "city demolisher", was also linked to the illegal wrecking of structures and numerous construction projects, allegedly in collusion with real estate developers.
In 2009, a Chengdu petitioner burned herself to death after her house was seized to make way for a development project.