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Billions seized in China's biggest corruption scandal in six decades

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 31st, 2014
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In what is being described as China's biggest corruption scandals in six decades, Chinese authorities have seized assets worth at least $14.5 billion from family members and associates of retired domestic security tsar Zhou Yongkang. Wide-ranging, more than 300 of Zhou's relatives, political allies, protégés and staff have been taken into custody or questioned according to Reuters.

LOS ANGELES, ca (Catholic Online) - The corruption probe is unprecedented in modern China. The amount of asset seizures as well as the scale of the investigations into the people around Zhou makes it appear that current Chinese President Xi Jinping is tackling graft at the highest levels.

There may also be an element of political payback after Zhou angered leaders such as Xi by opposing the ouster of former high-flying politician Bo Xilai, who was jailed for life in September for corruption and abuse of power.

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The 71-year-old Zhou has been under house arrest since authorities began formally investigating him late last year. Zhou is by far the most senior Chinese politician to be ensnared in a corruption investigation since the Communist Party swept to power in 1949.

"It's the ugliest in the history of the New China," one anonymous source said.

The government has yet to make any official statement about Zhou or the case against him and it has not been possible to contact Zhou, his family, associates or staff for comment.

In the highly sensitive, secretive world of China's Communist Party, targets of its investigations usually disappear, often for months or even years, until an official announcement is made.

Xi ordered a task force formed in late November or early December to look into accusations against Zhou, sources told Reuters. They have not said what the allegations were except that they were related to violating party discipline, official jargon for corruption.

A third source with ties to the leadership said Zhou had refused to cooperate with investigators. "Zhou Yongkang is tough and claims its political persecution," the source said.

Zhou rose through the ranks of China's oil and gas sector before joining the elite Politburo Standing Committee in 2007. He acted as a domestic security chief his budget exceeded defense spending. He retired in 2012.

Investigators confiscated about 300 apartments and villas worth around 1.7 billion yuan, antiques and contemporary paintings with a market value of 1 billion yuan and more than 60 vehicles, the sources added. Other items seized included expensive liquor, gold, silver and cash in local and foreign currencies.

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