A former top food and drug official caught up in a corruption probe has been expelled from China’s ruling Communist Party, state media said Thursday, a move that typically paves the way for prosecution.
Zhang Jingli, one of four deputy heads of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), was under investigation over alleged bribery linked to US pharamaceuticals giant Johnson & Johnson, previous reports had said.
He was removed from his post at the food and drug safety watchdog last year, official media reported in June, over “suspected serious disciplinary violations,” wording that usually refers to corrupt activities.
Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday that Zhang had now also been stripped of his party membership.
It gave no other details but such announcements often indicate that investigations had been concluded and authorities were ready to start formal prosecution. Guilty verdicts are almost assured.
The respected weekly the Economic Observer reported in June that Zhang came under suspicion when authorities started probing drug firms including the Shanghai branch of Johnson & Johnson for alleged bribery.
No further details were given about the alleged bribery probe, other than that they involved medical equipment.
AFP calls to Johnson & Johnson Medical in Shanghai seeking comment on the case went unanswered.
Six other officials at the watchdog SFDA were also being investigated in relation to the cases, the June report said.
Zhang took his post in 2003 and managed to survive a huge shake-up in the organisation after former SFDA head Zheng Xiaoyu was executed for accepting bribes.
Corruption is widespread in China, and the nation’s top leaders have repeatedly warned that it threatens the Communist Party’s ability to rule.