September 17, 2015 / 5:31 AM / 4 years ago

China to prosecute former official for 'crazily luxurious' club

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s ruling Communist Party will prosecute a former senior city government official who connived with businessmen to build a “crazily luxurious” private club modeled on Beijing’s famous “Water Cube” Olympics swimming venue.

Since President Xi Jinping began his sweeping campaign against corruption, waste and extravagance three years ago, the government has released details of the sometimes luxurious lives of officials who are supposed to live on modest sums and lead morally exemplary lives.

Tales of graft and officials’ high living have prompted widespread public anger, and the party has vowed to come down hard on offenders.

Wang Zhengshan, whose investigation the party announced in April, was a senior official in a development zone in the northern port city of Tianjin, but he ignored party discipline orders and got into bed with a group of “illegal businessmen”, the party’s anti-graft watchdog said on Thursday.

As he approached retirement and fearing his quality of life would go down, he spent money taken as bribes on buying villas, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said.

Wang illegally built a private club with three floors covering an area of more than 1,200 sq m”, the watchdog added, describing the building as a copy of the Beijing Olympics ‘Water Cube’.

“It had a swimming pool, gym, tennis court, restaurant, BBQ pit, flower nursery and high-end imported mahogany furniture - a crazy level of luxury,” it said.

It also said Wang had tried to hinder the graft probe by agreeing to a “conspiracy of silence” with other suspects.

“Wang Zhengshan is an example of a party official in a leadership position who ignored the law and discipline, acted without regard for any authority, was blinded by lust for money and went mad in his pursuit of extravagant pleasures.”

He has been expelled from the party and his case transferred to the legal authorities, the watchdog added, meaning he will be prosecuted.

It was not possible to reach Wang for comment and unclear if he has a lawyer.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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