Former Politburo member Sun Zhengcai charged with bribery

Sun Zhengcai was formally expelled from the CCP in September.
Sun Zhengcai was formally expelled from the CCP in September.

BEIJING • A former Politburo member who was once seen as a contender for China's top leadership has been charged with bribery, the country's top prosecutor has said.

Sun Zhengcai, former party chief of the south-western mega-city Chongqing, "should be held criminally responsible" for "seeking benefits for others" and "illegally accepting huge sums of money," according to a statement on the website of the Supreme People's Procuratorate yesterday.

Sun was charged with bribery for "illegally accepting a huge amount of assets from others" during various posts going back 15 years in Chongqing, Beijing, and Jilin province, and as Minister of Agriculture, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing prosecutors.

The agency has transferred Sun's case to the first branch of the Tianjin People's Procuratorate to complete proceedings, it said.

In July, the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) top watchdog launched an investigation against Sun for "serious discipline violation", according to Xinhua.

Sun was the first serving member of the elite 25-person Politburo to be placed under investigation since his predecessor Bo Xilai, who was jailed for life in 2013 in the wake of President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign.

Sun was formally expelled from the Communist Party in September, ahead of the start of the CCP's 19th Party Congress.

In a separate statement, the party's anti-corruption watchdog said former Internet chief Lu Wei had been expelled from the party and would be prosecuted for bribery.

At the height of his influence, Lu, a colourful and often brash official by Chinese standards who was put under investigation in November, was seen as emblematic of China's increasingly pervasive internet controls. Lu now awaits formal indictment.

The latest developments come as China's national legislature prepares for an annual plenary session next month that is expected to further cement Mr Xi's position as the most powerful Chinese leader in a generation.

President Xi has presided over a much-publicised anti-graft campaign since coming to power in 2012, which some have compared to a political purge.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2018, with the headline 'Former Politburo member Sun Zhengcai charged with bribery'. Print Edition | Subscribe