Central government considering setting up state-level anti-corruption institution Nearly 100,000 members of the Communist Party were penalised for corruption last year as a result of President Hu Jintao's renewed anti-graft campaign, the party's discipline watchdog said yesterday. Gan Yisheng , secretary-general of the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, also said the mainland was considering setting up a state-level corruption-prevention body, following years of debate about the country's need for an organisation similar to Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption. Mr Gan did not elaborate yesterday on how any new institution might interact with the CCDI or the judiciary. Last year's campaign unearthed a number of high-profile cases, including political rival Chen Liangyu , a former member of the all-powerful Politburo and Shanghai party chief, and former top statistician Qiu Xiaohua , who have been accused of corruption and other wrongdoings. Mr Gan said the case files of 3,530 members had been handed over to prosecutors, including seven officials at or above the governor and minister level. Mr Gan said 97,260 Communist Party members were punished and that 78,980, or 81 per cent of them, 'took bribes and violated the party's financial and economic rules'. Some were found to be in dereliction of duty. The party punished 115,143 members in 2005, accounting for 0.17 per cent of the total party membership, according to a commission report released early last year. Mr Gan said members who failed to abide by the ruling party's rules or made mistakes accounted for only 0.14 per cent of the party's near 70 million membership. 'The ratio is very low, which means most of the party members and cadres are clean,' Mr Gan said in Beijing. The Communist Party has launched several drives in recent years to try to stamp out graft, saying that the epidemic could threaten its rule and survival. Mr Hu renewed the campaign last year with the high-profile arrest of Chen, considered a key member of the Shanghai group, which was led by Mr Hu's predecessor Jiang Zemin . Many analysts believed the decision to remove Chen was politically motivated as the campaign was renewed ahead of a crucial party congress late this year. The 17th party congress will see major a reshuffle of the top leadership and will be a test of Mr Hu's campaign to establish his unquestioned authority within the party. Mr Gan said the investigation into Chen's case was 'going smoothly' and the results would be publicised at the appropriate time. 'The Party Central Committee's decisive and clear-cut stand in investigating and handling Chen Liangyu's case demonstrates that no matter how high a position a person holds, if they go against party discipline and the law, they will be investigated and severely punished,' he said. Chen is the highest-level official to be removed from office in a decade. He was implicated in the misuse of money from government pension funds to invest in real estate and other projects. Mr Gan said the party discipline watchdog's investigation into Qiu had just concluded. 'The case has been turned over to the judicial organs recently and the trial will start soon,' he said. Other prominent officials under investigation include Zheng Xiaoyu , the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, who is accused of taking bribes to approve shoddy drugs, and former Beijing vice-mayor Liu Zhihua , arrested for bribery.