The Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog placed one of its own senior officials under investigation yesterday amid a continuing anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by the nation's top leaders.
Wei Jian, the director of the No 4 office under the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), was being probed for "suspected serious violation of discipline and laws" - a description that usually applies to corruption and bribery - according to brief dispatch by Xinhua
Wei was taken away from his office on Sunday, the news portal Caixin.com  reported, citing an unnamed source.
Wei is the first CCDI official to be implicated in the anti-corruption drive since the watchdog set up its internal affairs branch to police its own agents in a restructuring in March.
Wang Qishan, the head of the CCDI, vowed when he announced the restructuring of the commission that there would be "zero tolerance" for ethical violations and abuse by its own inspectors.
Since November, Wei had mainly been responsible for affairs related to financial institutions, such as the People's Bank of China.
Before that, he was tasked with anti-graft investigations in 11 provinces in the northwest and southwest such as Sichuan, the onetime power base of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, Caixin.com  reported.
Observers said the downfall of Wei signified that the probe against Zhou would continue, but it was also an attempt by the anti-graft agency to clean house.
"There are many problems within the agency," said Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University of China. "The investigation against Wei is intended to improve the agency's reputation and authority."
Many senior officials from Sichuan, such as provincial party chief Li Chuncheng, who is close to Zhou, have been placed under investigation for corruption since President Xi Jinping launched his anti-graft crusade last year.
Gu Su, a professor of political science at Nanjing University, said the CCDI may also target financial institutions in its upcoming investigation because that was the portfolio Wei had recently been responsible for.
Wang was also responsible for the nation's financial affairs as a vice-premier before he was named head of the agency. "Wang knows very well the operations and problems facing the financial sector," Gu said. A series of problems facing the sector, such as the rising debt levels of local governments, could be at the heart of corruption, Gu said.