China army officer's gold, liquor haul seized in graft expose

BEIJING (AFP) - A top Chinese military officer owned dozens of homes, gold statues and crates of luxury liquor, reports said on Thursday, in rare revelations of corruption in the country's armed forces.

The expose on Gu Junshan, a former lieutenant general and deputy logistics chief for the People's Liberation Army believed to be under investigation, came as China's leaders ramp up a much-publicised crackdown on official corruption.

"There is grave corruption in the military especially in the logistics sector, but revelations on the military's graft fight is always kept off the radar for the sake of the military's image," said the Global Times newspaper, citing an "anti-graft expert" who did not want to be named.

Gu owned dozens of apartments in central Beijing, and his mansion in his home town of Puyang in the central province of Henan housed several gold art pieces, the magazine Caixin reported on Wednesday after a two-year investigation.

Officials seized "a gold boat, a gold wash basin and a gold statue of Mao Zedong" along with "crates of expensive liquor" on the premises known by locals as the "General's Mansion", it said.

Gu's name disappeared from an official list of his logistics department in early 2012 and eventually the entire defence ministry website, and he left his post that year, Caixin said.

A corruption probe has not been officially acknowledged, and was only obliquely referred to when National Defence University professor Gong Fangbin referred to corruption by Gu and his predecessor in an interview last August.

But widespread coverage of this week's revelations in China's strictly controlled media indicated that authorities were willing to have news of Gu's alleged corruption publicised.

It follows extensive media reports about government officials who have come under investigation, and repeated pledges by President Xi Jinping to fight corruption high and low.

The leadership has issued a raft of bans over the past year ranging from fancy banquets to expensive gifts, in an effort to deter graft and impose frugality.

But critics say that no system-wide measures, such as requiring public officials to declare their assets, have been brought in.

This week the military was required to purchase only domestic-brand vehicles as a way to save money, the Xinhua official news agency reported.

The Global Times cited analysts as saying that "2014 will see an even harsher clampdown".

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