BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese magazine on Tuesday provided fresh details about the charges against former senior leader Bo Xilai, saying he had accepted bribes while mayor of a northeastern city and prevented an investigation into his wife’s murder of a British businessman while local Communist Party boss in the southwest.
Prosecutors charged Bo with bribery, abuse of power and corruption last week, capping the country’s biggest political scandal since the 1976 downfall of the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Caijing, a respected business magazine, said the allegations of embezzlement and bribery against Bo, 64, occurred while he was mayor of the port city of Dalian in Liaoning province. The charge of abuse of power was related to Bo’s time as party chief in the sprawling southwestern city of Chongqing.
Caijing also said that Xu Ming, a plastics-to-property entrepreneur whose long association with Bo extended over two decades, was the “biggest briber”, without elaborating.
Xu, founder of a company named Dalian Shide group, was detained last year, the day before the government announced Bo’s removal, and has not been seen in public since. Forbes estimated Xu was worth $650 million in 2010.
Bo’s lawyer, Li Guifang, declined to comment on the Caijing report when contacted by Reuters.
The government is also investigating other mid-level officials in Chongqing, including the former director of the General Office of Chongqing, Wu Wenkang, and the former secretary of Chongqing’s Nan‘an district, Xia Zeliang, Caijing said.
The charge of abuse of power against Bo was related to him “preventing” his former police chief, Wang Lijun, from investigating the case of Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, murdering British businessman Neil Heywood, Caijing said.
Gu and Wang have both been convicted and jailed over the scandal. Prosecutors last year accused Bo of corruption and of bending the law to hush up the murder.
An official account of Wang’s trial last September said Wang had fled to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, southwest China, last year after Bo beat him and stripped him of his police job following Wang’s decision to confront Bo with the murder allegations against Gu.
Bo has been accused of receiving more than 20 million yuan ($3.26 million) in bribes and embezzling another 5 million yuan, Caijing said, confirming a report last week in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.
Caijing, citing Chinese law, said the earliest date that the trial could start would be early August.
Bo is certain to be found guilty. China’s prosecutors and courts come under Communist Party control and they are unlikely to challenge the party’s previous accusations.
Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee, Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Ron Popeski