Beijing (AFP) – 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 said Tuesday.
Sun Zhengcai, former party chief of the southwestern 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.
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 top watchdog launched an investigation against Sun for “serious discipline violation”, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
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.
The latest development comes as China’s national legislature prepares for an annual plenary session next month that is expected to further cement Xi’s position as the most powerful Chinese leader in a generation.
Government corruption is rampant in China, and Xi Jinping has presided over a much-publicised anti-graft campaign since coming to power in 2012, which some have compared to a political purge.
In October, senior party official Liu Shiyu congratulated Xi for foiling the efforts of powerful officials who “plotted to usurp the party’s leadership and seize state power.”
Liu listed former security czar Zhou Yongkang alongside Bo and Sun as members of the conspiracy, which was rumoured to have involved military officials.
All three have been ousted from the CCP and arrested or jailed on corruption charges.