Los Angeles Times

Infamous China official accused of corruption

Communist Party expels Ling Jihua, whose son died in a Ferrari crash in 2012.

- By Julie Makinen julie. makinen@ latimes. com Twitter:@ Julie- MakLAT Harvard Zhang in The Times’ Beijing bureau contribute­d to this report.

BEIJING— Former Chinese President Hu Jintao’s onetime top aide, who was sidelined from the upper echelons of power in 2012 after his son died in a spectacula­r Ferrari crash, has been expelled from the Communist Party and-referred to courts for prosecutio­n, state- run news media said Monday.

Party investigat­ors found that Ling Jihua, who essentiall­y held a role akin to White House chief of staff, had committed numerous violations of “party discipline,” the New China News Agency reported. The violations included taking bribes, committing adultery with multiple women, wrongly acquiring state secrets and using his position to obtain financial benefits for his relatives, the state- run news agency said.

Ling’s actions constitute­d a “complete departure from the party’s nature and purpose,” “greatly damaged the party’s image” and had “extremely bad social impact,” the agency said.

President Xi Jinping, since replacing Hu as Communist Party general secretary in late 2012, has embarked on a wide- ranging corruption crackdown aimed at both “tigers and flies,” high- ranking and lowranking officials. Ling is among the tigers whose fall from power would have been hard to envision just a few years ago.

The anti- corruption drive has proved popular among citizens. They frequently encounter requests for bribes in their daily lives — at schools, hospitals, administra­tive offices and else where — and have watched with dismay as party officials and their families have acquired outsize fortunes.

But the campaign is a delicate balancing act for Xi. Some observers have likened the drive to a political witch hunt to eliminate rivals, and so far the party has not demonstrat­ed any inclinatio­n to make structural changes— such as requiring public asset disclosure­s for public officials— that might curb influence- peddling.

High- ranking officials such as Ling are first subject to an internal party discipline review, and then may have their cases transferre­d to court. The Supreme People’s Procurator­ate said Monday that it was investigat­ing accusation­s of bribery against Ling, state- run China Central Television said.

When the black Ferrari 458 Spider crashed in Beijing in March 2012, it was big news on its own. But six months later, itwas officially acknowledg­ed that the man at the wheel of the $ 700,000 sports car, who was killed in the crash, was Ling’s 23year- old son, Ling Gu.

That raised questions about how the family of a public servant had come into somuch money.

Adding to the salaciousn­ess of the incident, several occupants of the car were reported to be in various states of undress. One woman later died of her injuries.

The disclosure of who was driving the Ferrari-came just before Hu passed the baton to Xi, and Ling, who some had expected to stay on in a key post, was relegated to a less influentia­l position. But it was not until December 2014 that an official party inquiry was launched.

Ling’s case follows the prosecutio­n of several other onetime senior Communist officials, including Bo Xilai, the party secretary in the city of Chongqing and a rival of Xi’s who was convicted in 2013 on charges of embezzleme­nt, bribery and abuse of power and sentenced to life in prison.

Last month, authoritie­s announced that former domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang had been sentenced to life in prison on corruption charges after a closed- door trial in May.

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Associated Press ?? LING JIHUA, top left, and his then- boss, former President Hu Jintao, bottom right, in Beijing in 2012.
AndyWong Associated Press LING JIHUA, top left, and his then- boss, former President Hu Jintao, bottom right, in Beijing in 2012.

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