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Ex-Civil Affairs Minister Under Investigation

By Zhou Qijun and Li Rongde

(Beijing) — Former Civil Affairs Minister Li Liguo and one of his then-deputies are being investigated by the ruling Communist Party's anti-corruption authority in connection with scandals plaguing the lottery system under the ministry, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Luo Dongchuan, a unit head at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), confirmed the investigation into the pair in response to a reporter’s question at a news conference in Beijing on Monday.

The two are being investigated after “findings by anti-corruption officials and tips from the public,” Luo said without elaborating.

Li, 63, and the former deputy, Dou Yupei, 59, were removed from their ministry posts in November, but no reason had been given until now.

The investigation into the two senior civil affairs officials is linked to the downfall of two other civil affairs officials who oversaw the charity lottery system that the ministry runs.

Bao Xuequan, a former head of the Welfare Lottery Distribution and Management Center under the civil affairs ministry, and He Wen, the general manager of China Lottery Online Corp., a company affiliated with the center, were taken into police custody earlier in 2016.

However, police have released little information about the extent of their alleged irregularities.

The CCDI said it found problems with the lottery system during a spot inspection from February to April. Investigators also accused some civil affairs officials of misusing their power for personal gain, according to a CCDI report released in June.

In a report in June 2015, the National Audit Office said that both the welfare lottery center and its control company misappropriated 222 million yuan ($32 million) in building of a hotel at the famed Yellow Mountain and trying to pass it off as a vocational training center for the ministry.

Two Central Committee members were absent from a key party meeting late in October because of alleged corruption, CCDI head Wang Qishan told a meeting of top government advisers earlier in December.

However, Wang, who is also a member of the all-powerful Standing Committee of the party’s Politburo, stopped short of naming the two, prompting speculations that Li might be one of those who were absent.

Contact Li Rongde (rongdeli@caixin.com)

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