October 9, 2017 / 10:38 AM / 8 months ago

China expels former Chongqing police chief from party for graft

BEIJING (Reuters) - The former police chief of the scandal-plagued major southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing has been expelled from the ruling Communist Party after a probe by the anti-corruption watchdog found he wasted public money and abused his power.

He Ting, 55, was abruptly removed from his post without explanation in June, a position he had held since early 2012.

His downfall preceded that of Chongqing’s former top official, one-time city party chief Sun Zhengcai, who was sacked in July and then put under investigation for suspected corruption.

In a brief statement, the graft-fighting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said He wasted public funds, went to banquets organised by private firms, interfered in promotions and sought benefit for relatives’ companies.

He also had for a long time engaged in “superstitious activities”, a charge often levelled at fallen officials to further blacken their names, often implying visits to soothsayers and temples. Party officials are supposed to be strictly atheist.

Apart from being expelled from the party, he will also be forced to take early retirement and will have his illicit gains seized, the watchdog added, without saying if he would also face criminal prosecution.

It was not possible to reach He or a representative for comment and unclear if he has been allowed to retain a lawyer.

Chongqing, one of China’s most important cities, is perhaps best known outside China for its association with another of its disgraced former party bosses, Bo Xilai, once a contender for top leadership before being jailed for life in 2013 in his own dramatic corruption scandal.

Bo’s police chief, Wang Lijun, was also jailed for his part in Bo’s scandal, which centred on Bo’s wife murdering a British businessman.

Sun had also once been seen as a potential former national leader. The party opens a key congress next week to unveil a new generation of leaders.

Sources with ties to the leadership and foreign diplomats say Sun had been out of favour after the party’s corruption watchdog in February criticised Chongqing authorities for not doing enough to root out Bo’s influence.

President Xi Jinping has carried out a sweeping campaign against deep-seated corruption since coming to power five years ago, warning as others have before him that the problem is so severe it could affect the party’s grip on power.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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