The Chinese government has sent a team to Hong Kong to investigate the business interests of suspended Politburo member Bo Xilai and his family, a report said Monday.
Bo was sacked from his post as Communist Party boss of Chongqing city last month, and subsequently suspended from the party’s top-level Politburo for “serious discipline violations” — code in China for graft.
His wife, Gu Kailai, has been placed under investigation for the suspected murder of a British businessman — a scandal that came to light when Bo’s right-hand man fled to a US consulate and reportedly asked for asylum.
Analysts have said the scandal is the most serious crisis for the Communist leadership since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and has exposed splits within the party ahead of this year’s leadership transition.
“The working group which has been investigating issues relating to Bo… has already arrived in Hong Kong,” the South China Morning Post quoted an unnamed source as saying.
The team will look into the “alleged huge amount of assets held by the family in Hong Kong” as well as their relations with China’s powerful security chief, Zhou Yongkang, the source said.
China’s liaison office in Hong Kong refused to comment on the report, while an official with the local mainland affairs ministry said the southern city’s government was “not in a position to comment”.
Bo’s elder brother, Bo Xiyong, is believed to be a top director of Hong Kong-listed China Everbright International under the assumed name of Li Xueming, the Post reported.
Gu’s eldest sister, Gu Wangjiang, meanwhile had held numerous board positions in the regional banking centre which serves as a springboard for foreign companies wanting to do business with China.
A commentary by the official Xinhua news agency last week said the death of Briton Neil Heywood in Chongqing in November was “a serious criminal case involving the kin and aides of a party and state leader”.
The commentary appeared to suggest authorities would make examples of those involved in the scandal to counter what it described as “slackened spirit, incompetence… inactivity and corruption”.
Bo had been widely tipped to take a seat on the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee after the ruling party’s once-a-decade power transition later this year.