China expels brother of former senior official over graft

BEIJING (REUTERS) - The brother of a former top Chinese presidential aide has been expelled from the ruling Communist Party and public office, the government said on Friday, paving the way for his prosecution for violations such as accepting bribes.

Ling Zhengce, the former deputy head of the parliamentary advisory body in the coal-rich northern province of Shanxi, is the elder brother of Ling Jihua, a one-time senior aide to former president Hu Jintao.

Ling Zhengce violated rules of self-discipline by accepting monetary gifts and exploiting his position, besides seeking benefits for relatives, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said.

"In addition to this, Ling Zhengce's behaviour interfered with and hindered organisational investigation," the anti-graft watchdog said in a statement on its website.

Authorities announced an investigation into Ling in June 2014.

The latest move to eject him from the party and strip him of his official post is a necessary procedural step in passing the case to judicial authorities for prosecution.

Ling's brother, Ling Jihua, was demoted in September 2012 after sources said his son was involved in a deadly crash involving a luxury sports car, an embarrassment for the party, which is sensitive to perceptions that children of top officials live rich, privileged lifestyles.

Authorities announced in July that he would face prosecution after an investigation revealed crimes that damaged the party's image, such as receiving money and gifts from unnamed people, having affairs with numerous women and trading power for sex.

Party members can be punished for adultery as they are supposed to be upstanding members of society. The charge is frequently levelled at high-ranking graft suspects as a way of showing they are morally degenerate and deserve punishment.

Ling Jihua's case has presented a dilemma for Beijing; his position is particularly sensitive because of his close connection with Hu, President Xi Jinping's predecessor.

Since assuming power in late 2012, Xi, who doubles as party and military chief, has pursued a relentless campaign against deep-rooted corruption, vowing to go after powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".

Xi has warned the problem of corruption among officials is severe enough to affect the party's ability to retain power, though some analysts say he is also cementing his position and eliminating rivals.