Shanghai has officially launched a corruption investigation into the former head of the mainland's first free-trade zone (FTZ), who was the city's first senior cadre to come to the attention of anti-graft inspectors last year. Dai Haibo, 53, "seriously violated party discipline and laws" - the standard euphemism for corruption - Xinhua reported yesterday, citing Shanghai's commission for discipline inspection. The announcement came six months after Dai was sacked as executive deputy director of the Shanghai FTZ administration committee, the de facto top executive of the zone, which had been touted as China's testing ground for economic reforms. The announcement did not elaborate on Dai's alleged wrongdoings. "It came as no surprise since he was removed from the FTZ post because of findings of wrongdoing," a Shanghai government source said. "The launch of the investigation was a hard decision for city leaders since they had obviously hoped to offer Dai a 'soft landing'." According to three sources, Dai's ex-wife reported his corrupt dealings to the national graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, before he was removed from the FTZ job in September. He remained a deputy general secretary of the municipal government in charge of a local taskforce on port affairs, and the municipal graft agency was tasked with investigating other suspected officials after the CCDI inspectors left. Shanghai vice-mayor Ai Baojun had told reporters in late September that Dai's job change was a normal personnel reshuffle, playing down speculation that the technocrat was in trouble. Dai's wrongdoings happened before he was appointed head of the FTZ administration committee, sources said. One said he was involved in several questionable land deals conducted by the Nanhui district government when he was in charge of the area from 2003 to 2009. Dai's removal from the FTZ just days before its first anniversary was seen as a blow to the free-trade zone. Dai, who came to the job with a reputation for attracting foreign funds to economic development zones, was a general manager of Shanghai's Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park from 1998 to 2003. The Shanghai FTZ has grappled with criticism for its slow development as the authorities fail to deliver promised trade liberalisations. Shanghai had planned to organise a ceremony to mark the expansion of the FTZ on March 28, after the State Council gave its approval to more than quadruple its geographic size to 120 sq km, but the municipality has since put the inauguration on hold.