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August 7, 2013

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Party expels officials in prostitution probe

Authorities in Shanghai have kicked three officials of its top court out of the Party and placed another on a two-year probation inside the Party for allegedly hiring prostitutes.

The Party’s Shanghai Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Shanghai Higher People’s Court have also suggested sacking the four officials pending approval from the Shanghai People’s Congress, the city’s legislature.

The four court officials are three judges Ñ Chen Xueming, Zhao Minghua, Wang Guojun Ñ and discipline official Ni Zhengwen. All four serve at the Shanghai Higher People’s Court.

Chen and Zhao are president and vice president of the higher court’s No. 1 civil court. Wang is vice president of the higher court’s No. 5 civil court and Ni is deputy director of the discipline inspection team and inspection office of the higher court.

Zhao, Chen and Ni have been expelled from the Party while Wang was placed under a two-year probation.

A fifth official, Guo Xianghua, deputy general manager with the administrative department of the Shanghai No.4 Construction (Group) Co Ltd, has been sacked by the company and expelled from the Party, the commission said.

The five officials were placed under official scrutiny after video footage posted online last week appeared to show them soliciting prostitutes at the Hengshan Resort hotel on 88 Chengnan Road in the Pudong New Area on June 9.

The commission said that earlier in the day Guo invited Zhao to have dinner at a restaurant on Tongji Road, and Zhao in turn invited Chen, Ni and Wang. After dinner, the five officials went to a nightclub in the hotel where they were accompanied by women. On the same night, Zhao, Chen, Ni and Guo entertained prostitutes from a nearby spa in their rooms, the commission said.

Police have placed the five under administrative detention for 10 days. The hotel which provided prostitution services has been ordered to suspend operations for rectification.

The whistleblower, identified only as Ni, who uploaded the video online last Thursday and provided more than 30 hours of video evidence to the authorities on Saturday, had suspected Zhao of manipulating the verdict in a civil case which he lost. He had been forced to sell his apartment on Huaihai Road to pay debts and began following Zhao to collect any evidence of his corruption. In the course of his investigations he uncovered evidence involving the four other officials.

According to a report in the Beijing Morning Post, the whistleblower gained access to the hotel’s surveillance video footage by claiming he had lost items in the hotel and bribing a security guard with two cigarettes.

He also revealed that Zhao was the owner of four apartments in Shanghai, something that should have been beyond his means on a judge’s salary.



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