China to prosecute former statistics bureau chief for corruption

Wang Baoan attends a news conference in Beijing, China, in this January 13, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will prosecute the former head of its statistics bureau, the country’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Friday, accusing him of serious violations of discipline, including extravagance, abuse of power and selling power for sex.

President Xi Jinping has conducted a sweeping campaign to root out deeply ingrained corruption since assuming office more than three years ago, warning that the problem is so bad it could affect the ruling Communist Party’s grip on power.

The crackdown has targeted a broad swathe of high-ranking officials, from members of the military to former judges and various ministry chiefs, as well as numerous bosses of state-owned companies.

Wang Baoan, the former chief of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, lacked political faith, had frequently stayed at expensive hotels, abused his position to get benefits for relatives, and had accepted gifts, property and bribes, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said.

Wang, 52, also engaged in “superstitious activities”, “exchanged power for sex”, and was “morally bankrupt”, the agency said in a statement on its website.

The CCDI announced the investigation of Wang in January. The latest move expelling him from the party and handing his case over to legal authorities indicates he will face prosecution.

Reuters was not able to reach Wang for comment and it was unclear if he had been able to retain a lawyer. China’s courts are controlled by the party, and convictions in such cases are generally a foregone conclusion.

Wang was deputy finance minister from 2012 until April 2015, when he took up the post of statistics bureau chief.

A Chinese general has also been arrested for violating party discipline, a Hong Kong newspaper cited two unnamed sources as saying, describing him as one of the most senior incumbent military officials to be targeted in Beijing’s crackdown on corruption.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie