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Shenzhen mayor busted for graft

THE mayor of Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong Province has been removed from office for "serious disciplinary offenses," the Communist Party's Central Committee announced yesterday.

Three Shenzhen vice mayors are also being investigated in a snowballing inquiry into the alleged criminal activities of a man who was once considered China's appliance king.

Investigators from the central disciplinary authority have been sent to Shenzhen, and all senior city officials have been forbidden to leave the city and required to hand over their personal travel documents, according to the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.

The clampdown on Xu Zongheng, 54, who had been Shenzhen's mayor since 2005, started last Friday while his wife was under surveillance by authorities, according to Beijing-based Caijing Magazine.

Xu was put under double designation status - a special investigative procedure in which a Party official is ordered to explain allegations of disciplinary violations or corruption at a designated time and place.

Ming Pao quoted unnamed insiders as saying that the probe was related to Xu's alleged involvement with Huang Guangyu, the founder of Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings Ltd who was once ranked as the richest man on the mainland. Huang was arrested in November for alleged economic crimes.

The central disciplinary authority reportedly had been investigating Xu for a year. There had been no breakthroughs until a recent investigation into a mainland actress who obtained Hong Kong permanent resident's status earlier this year, according to the newspaper report.

The actress, unnamed in the report, told investigators that Xu had offered a large sum of cash to her and she had helped Xu deal with his personal activities in Hong Kong. The actress had reportedly arranged for Xu to appear on China Central Television to gain publicity.

Chen Shaoji, the former chief of Guangdong police, and Wang Huayuan, chief of the disciplinary body in Zhejiang Province, have both already been detained in the investigation into Huang.


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