China to prosecute two former senior officials for graft

Former vice mayor of Shanghai Ai Baojun.
Former vice mayor of Shanghai Ai Baojun.SCREENGRAB: TWITTER/ CCTVNEWS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - The Chinese authorities will prosecute two former senior officials, including a one-time vice mayor of Shanghai, for corruption, after probes found they abused their power and took bribes, the ruling Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog said on Tuesday (Jan 19).

Former Shanghai vice-mayor Ai Baojun, whose corruption investigation the party announced in November, took gifts, exchanged power for sex and "sought benefits" for relatives in business dealings, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said.

He also frequented private clubs and golf courses, it said, two activities party members are barred from due to the reputation both have as places for shady dealings.

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

Ai had headed the committee that runs the Shanghai Free Trade Zone since its launch in Sept 2013, as part of a government effort to test a more open and streamlined environment for foreign firms to do business, along with the relaxation of policies for several service sectors.

The second former official is Zhou Laizhen, who was a deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China until his probe began, also in November.

The watchdog also accused him of taking gifts, exchanging power for sex and helping relatives in business dealings, but said he also used public funds for banquets and personal travel.

He too has been expelled from the party and will face prosecution.

It was not possible to reach either Ai or Zhou for comment and was not clear if either had lawyers.

Dozens of senior officials have been jailed for corruption since President Xi Jinping assumed office three years ago and launched a renewed push against the problem, warning it was so severe it could affect the party's grip on power.