Senior Chinese planning official sacked in latest corruption case

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A deputy head of China's top planning agency has been sacked for corruption after allegations against him were first posted online, media said on Tuesday, in the government's latest move against pervasive graft.

Liu Tienan had been removed as deputy of the National Development and Reform Commission for "serious discipline violations", the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the Communist Party of China's Organisation Department as saying.

The news came the same day that a deputy police chief in southwestern Chongqing city was reported fired for taking 17 million yuan (S$ 3.4 million) in bribes.

The police official, Tang Jianhua, was also expelled from the Communist Party, the Chongqing government said on its website.

Newly installed President Xi Jinping has promised to tackle corruption head-on, saying it threatens the ruling Communist Party's very foundations.

Liu's downfall stemmed from allegations first posted online, an increasingly common way of raising corruption accusations by whistleblowers, investigative journalists and citizens.

The China Daily said in an editorial Liu was the first ministerial-level official to be investigated stemming from accusations on the Internet.

"His confirmed investigation is evidence that the authorities are serious about fighting corruption," the newspaper said.

Luo Changping, deputy editor-in-chief of the investigative Caijing Magazine, posted accusations on his microblog last December that Liu was involved in a number of illegal activities.

The Global Times newspaper, citing the accusations by Luo, said Liu, 59, had taken bribes for helping a businessman to defraud banks of loans of more than $200 million in 2011 for an investment in Canada.

Key information on Liu's case was initially divulged by a former mistress in Japan, the Global Times quoted Luo as saying.

Tang, the police official, was a deputy to former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, who was disgraced after his involvement in China's biggest political scandal in decades.

Wang was a close associate of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, who was deposed amid accusations of murder and diplomatic intrigue that caused division and uncertainty as the party prepared a transfer of power to a new generation of leaders.

Wang was sentenced to 15 years in prison for taking bribes and other crimes. The government has yet to announce a trial date for Bo, or what charges he will face.

China's attempts to tackle corruption have snagged increasingly senior officials, such as former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun who was charged last month with corruption and abuse of power.

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