Apr 18, 2016 05:33 PM

Top Legal Affairs Official in Hebei Is Subject of 'Discipline' Probe

Zhang Yue
Zhang Yue

(Beijing) – A senior Communist Party official in Hebei Province who has been linked to a controversial businessman and a disgraced former vice minister of state security is being investigated for "serious violations of party discipline," a term usually taken to mean corruption.

The party's top graft buster, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), announced the probe into Zhang Yue, the head of the northern province's Political and Legal Affairs Committee, on April 16.

The CCDI did not provide any other details on the inquiry into the head of the party body that oversees Hebei's police and courts.

The investigation into Zhang, 55, is linked to his ties with Guo Wengui, a property tycoon who controls Beijing Pangu Investment Co., and Ma Jian, a former vice minister of state security, a person who has been briefed on the inquiry said.

The source, who asked not to be named, told Caixin that Zhang introduced Ma, a long-time friend, to Guo around 2004. The group colluded to advance Guo's business interests by taking advantage of Ma's clout within the country's domestic security apparatus and Zhang's control of the political and legal affairs commission in Hebei, the source said.

In one case, Ma helped Guo topple a former deputy mayor of Beijing, Liu Zhihua, with a sex scandal that cleared the way for Guo to take control of a key land project near the Olympic Green Park just before the 2008 Games, the source said.

Ma was detained in January 2015 by the CCDI. Guo, 49, lives overseas and has amassed 17 billion yuan in personal assets by the end of 2015, Hurun, a Shanghai-based wealth tracker, said in a report last year.

Zhang helped Guo acquire a 6.81 percent stake in Beijing-based Minzu Securities Co. from the government-backed Shijiazhuang Commercial Bank in Hebie in 2009 by intervening the bank's sale of the brokerage's shares, the source said.

The source said he did not know what Zhang got in return.

Zhang also helped Guo settle scores with business associates when ties with them soured, he said. This included Qu Long , the former president of Guangzhou-based Grandrank Investment & Co. Ltd.

Qu, a former business partner of Guo's, was detained by police in Chengde, Hebei Province, over illegal ownership of firearms in March 2011. He was later jailed for 15 years for embezzlement of 855 million yuan in May of the same year, court documents shows.

Qu's family told Caixin that he got into trouble because he told authorities about Guo's acquisition of the Minzu Securities shares, a deal he said led to the loss of state assets.

Zhang spent much of his career in the capital's police force and in the Ministry of Public Security before being transferred to Hebei in October 2007 to serve as the party secretary of province's police force. He was promoted to the head of the province's political and legal affairs body a year later.

He was last seen in public on April 15, when the official Hebei Daily reported that he attended a provincial party committee meeting on economic affairs.

(Rewritten by Li Rongde)

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