Chinese general facing charges in graft inquiry

It may end up being the biggest corruption scandal ever in the country's military.

NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICEApril 1, 2014 

BEIJING - Prosecutors accused a former senior military official on Monday of charges including bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The charges against the officer, Lt. Gen. Gu Junshan, are the outcome of a far-reaching inquiry under President Xi Jinping that signaled his determination to make high-profile examples out of dishonest military figures.

His goal, military analysts said, is to transform a service larded with pet projects and patronage networks into a leaner fighting force more adept at projecting power abroad and buttressing party rule at home, while tightening his own control over the army.

The announcement of the case against Gu, made by Xinhua, the official news agency, provided no details. But an internal inquiry has accused him of presiding over a vast land development racket that hoarded kickbacks, bought promotions and enabled him and his family to amass dozens of expensive residences, including places where investigators found stockpiles of high-end liquor, gold bullion and cash, according to people briefed on the investigation.

The investigation into Gu, who had a commanding authority over how resources in the army were used, has shaken the military because of the scale of his activities - estimates of his assets range from several hundred million to a few billion dollars - and because it threatens some of its most senior figures.

Even as Xi has pressed a sweeping campaign against graft in the Communist Party, he has seized on the case against Gu to pursue a parallel drive to clean up the 2.3 million-member armed forces. In doing so, he is challenging military elders who promoted Gu and have sought to protect him and themselves from the investigation, the people with knowledge of the inquiry said.

Gu has already provided investigators with enough information to target powerful patrons, principally Xu Caihou, the army's second-ranking general and a Politburo member before retiring in 2012, people with knowledge of the inquiry said. These people, who include retired military officers, foreign diplomats and children of former senior leaders, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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