China has arrested a former senior aide to retired President Hu Jintao on corruption charges, accusing him of taking bribes and engaging in other corrupt behaviour, the government said on Monday.
Ling Jihua has been under investigation since last December, China’s state media reported, adding, his party membership cancelled and removed from all government positions.
Ling Jihua, whose former position is comparable to the US president’s chief of staff, was under spotlight after his son was killed in a collision involving a Ferrari and two women in Beijing, back in 2012.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, Ling used his position to gain financial and political benefits, including taking huge amounts of money as bribes. His family, particularly his wife, is also accused of using Ling's influence to take bribes and gifts.
Ling and his wife also were accused of trading power for sex, as party members can be punished for "morally degenerate" adultery.
Former presidential aide's brother and other family members were also detained, Reuters reported, adding Ling had a nervous breakdown after the charges.
Jeffrey Bader, a senior fellow at Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution, told Associated Press (AP) that the arrest was expected. “It’s the sign of the determination of Xi Jinping and the leadership to go after high-level actors in the anti-corruption campaign,” Bader said.
The Chinese government's fight against corruption has extended to almost every corner of the country, including powerful state-owned companies which dominate sectors of the economy such as energy, banking and telecommunications, as well as powerful political figures.
China's former domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang, was sentenced to life in prison for bribery, leaking state secrets and abuse of power last April. Zhou was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee - China's apex of power - and held the post of security tsar until he retired in 2012.
A Politburo statement said the crimes Ling is accused of damaged the party's image and had a "terrible" effect on society, Xinhua reported.
"He or his family received enormous bribes; he obtained a large number of the party's and state's core secrets, breaking discipline and the law. He should bear major responsibility for his family members' acts of seeking profits with the influence of his position," the statement said.
After the government began a campaign against deep-rooted graft and corruption, thousands of people have been investigated in 2015, including 907 officials at county-level or above.