BEIJING – China has expelled former railways minister Liu Zhijun from the ruling Communist Party for suspected involvement in economic crimes, state media said on Monday, the latest step in a corruption investigation into the scandal-plagued railways.
His case has been handed over for investigation to judicial authorities, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Liu took huge bribes and misused his position to help the chairman of an investment company get “an enormous illegal profit”, Xinhua said.
“He is a degenerate,” Xinhua said of Liu. “He has major leadership responsibility for the serious corruption problems seen on the railways system.”
China’s sprawling railway system has faced numerous problems over the past few years, including heavy debts from funding new high-speed lines and waste and fraud.
Last year, the ministry suffered a big blow to its image when a crash between two high-speed trains killed 40 people.
This month, the government said it would open the rail industry to private investment on an unprecedented scale.
Liu was sacked in February of last year for “serious disciplinary violations”. He had spearheaded an investment drive into the rail sector over the past decade.
Now that the party has reached its conclusion on the case, Liu will be tried by a court, where he will face either a lengthy jail sentence or possibly death.
While the case attracted a lot of attention when it first broke, it has since been overshadowed by a much more salacious scandal involving the former party chief of Chongqing, the ambitious Bo Xilai.
Bo’s downfall has unleashed division and uncertainty months before the party meets to formalise a transfer of power to a new generation of leaders.