Former rail minister expelled from Party
Updated: 2012-05-29 07:59
By Tong Hao and Cao Yin (China Daily)
Liu Zhijun violated discipline and will face judicial investigation
Liu Zhijun, former railway minister, was expelled from the Communist Party of China due to serious disciplinary violations, according to a decision by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced on Monday.
Liu, 59, was also blamed for fostering corruption throughout the railway system.
The disciplinary watchdog said Liu had taken advantage of his position to help Ding Yuxin, board chairwoman of Beijing Boyou Investment Management Corp, make huge illicit gains.
He was also charged with accepting a large number of bribes and leading a corrupt life.
His illicit gains have been confiscated and he will be handed over to the judicial department for further investigation. His disciplinary violations may include criminal acts, the watchdog said.
Lin Zhe, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC who specializes in fighting corruption, said Liu will probably face severe punishment.
"Expelling Liu from the Party means his political life has ended," she said, adding such punishment for an official is very heavy.
However, Lin added Liu's case will not be brought to court any time soon, "because the case is complicated", and more time is needed to investigate.
No matter what achievements an official has made, no matter how high his position was, the authority will deal with corruption without fear or favor, Lin added.
Li Chengyan, head of Peking University's clean government research center, said the case is being treated seriously. "Liu's punishment, after a one-year investigation, shows our government attaches great importance to the case." The announcement on Monday is the latest development in the investigation.
Liu was appointed vice-minister of railways in 1996 and minister in 2003. He was removed from his post in February last year.
At least eight senior officials at the Ministry of Railways have been sacked in the past two years and placed under investigation.
They include, Zhang Shuguang, former deputy chief engineer at the ministry, Luo Jinbao, former board chairman of China Railway Container Transport Co and Su Shunhu, former deputy chief of the ministry's transport bureau.
Zhang, Liu's close friend, and Luo have confirmed links to Liu's case.
Other officials are "very likely" to be linked, according to a report by Caixin.com, a financial news website.
Liu, as minister, called for "leapfrog development". This entailed building a high-speed rail network of 16,000 km by 2015. Investment, totaling trillions of yuan poured in, and funds were embezzled.
In one particular case, at least 187 million yuan ($28 million) was misappropriated by individuals or companies involved in building the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, the National Audit Office said in a report in March last year.
Ding, 57, board chairwoman of Beijing Boyou Investment Management Corp, from Shanxi province, is also called Ding Shumiao.
Due to her close relationship with Liu, Ding's company won bids for high-speed railway projects in recent years, such as Wuhan to Guangzhou, Zhengzhou to Xi'an and Guangzhou to Shenzhen-Hong Kong, according to a report by Beijing News in January.
The report also said that the assets of Ding's company soared from 474 million yuan in 2008 to 4.5 billion yuan in 2010.
A Caixin magazine report in February last year also said Ding introduced a number of young actresses in a TV series, that she had invested in, to Liu.
Ding was placed under investigation in January last year.
After the bullet train crash in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, on July 23 last year, which killed 40 passengers, the construction of high-speed rail was curtailed and bullet train speeds were reduced.
A report by an investigation team, authorized by the State Council, said in December last year that Liu and the ministry's former deputy chief engineer Zhang Shuguang should take prime responsibility for the accident.
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(China Daily 05/29/2012 page1)