China formally starts graft probe of former Sichuan governor

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's main anti-corruption watchdog said on Thursday (Feb 4) it has formally begun an investigation into the former governor of China's populous southwestern province of Sichuan, accusing him of serious "discipline violations".

The government said last month that the former governor, Wei Hong, was suspected of corruption, but had given no other details other than using the term "discipline violations", the common official euphemism for graft in China.

In a short statement, the ruling Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Wei was "disloyal to the party, dishonest and did not value the many educational and remedial opportunities offered by the organisation".

He "resisted" the investigation into him, was untruthful when questioned and "poked his hands into legal activities", it added. "Comrade Wei Hong's discipline violation activities were odious and the details serious," the statement said, without elaborating.

It was not possible to reach Wei for comment and it was not clear if he had retained a lawyer.

Sichuan has emerged as a focus of President Xi Jinping's crackdown against deep-seated corruption as it was a power base for former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, who was party boss there from 1999-2002.

Zhou was jailed for life for graft last year.

Wei had spent virtually his entire career in Sichuan, according to his official resume, and was party chief in the second-tier city of Ya'an during Zhou's tenure in the province.