, BEIJING, June 30- A former top Chinese military officer has been expelled from the ruling Communist Party, state media said Monday, becoming the highest ranking official to fall in a wide reaching crackdown on corruption.
Xu Caihou, the former vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, was expelled over graft and his case handed over to prosecutors, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.
The 71 year old Xu was until 2012 a member of the Communist Party’s elite 25 strong Politburo, which oversees Chinese politics and legal affairs.
He is its the first former member to fall in the current crackdown, which follows the ascension of Xi Jinping to power at the head of the party.
The decision to expel him was made at a Politburo meeting presided over by Xi, Xinhua reported.
Investigators found Xu took advantage of his post “to assist the promotion of certain people”, and accepted bribes “personally and through his family members”, it quoted a statement issued after the meeting as saying.
“His case is serious and leaves vile impact,” it said.
News of Xu’s ouster came as two other former officials — Jiang Jiemin, head of China’s state-owned assets watchdog, and former vice minister of public security Li Dongsheng — were also stripped of their party membership.
Both men had previously been sacked from their jobs for graft and are closely linked to Zhou Yongkang, a former top China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) official who went on to become China’s security tsar and a member of its highest body, the Politburo Standing Committee.
A fourth man — Wang Yongchun, a former CNPC vice president who was Zhou’s assistant when he worked at the major Chinese oilfield of Daqing — has also been expelled from the party, Xinhua said Monday.
A number of officials and others with close ties to Zhou have come under investigation in recent months, as the former security chief himself is now at the centre of rumours about a corruption probe. He has not been seen in public for months.
The anti graft campaign has been heavily publicized, but critics say no systemic reforms have been introduced to increase transparency to help battle endemic corruption.