- Investigation finds influence peddling, bribery and womanizing
- Bo Xilai's economic programs made him popular in Chongqing
- He once was considered for the Politburo Standing Committee, a team that effectively rules China
- Bo's fortunes changed when his wife was tied to a murder case
Bo Xilai, the Chinese politician who fell from grace amid a dramatic political scandal, has been expelled from the Communist Party and relieved of his duties, China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, reported Friday.
Bo once was considered a top contender for the Politburo Standing Committee, the team of nine politicians who effectively rule China, but the news report on his expulsion painted a portrait of corruption, abuse of power and improper sexual relationships.
The party said Bo made "severe mistakes" in the killing of a British businessman -- a crime for which his wife was imprisoned -- and a diplomatic incident involving a police official, Xinhua said. Investigators cited influence peddling, bribery and womanizing, new details found in the course of the party's investigation.
"Bo had or maintained improper sexual relationships with a number of women," the state news agency said.
He also took advantage of his power to seek profits and received bribes, Xinhua said. And his family "accepted a huge amount of money and property from others," the news agency reported.
The news came a month before China's Communist Party is expected to meet at its 18th National Congress in Beijing to announce who'll occupy the top positions.
Bo is a charismatic, albeit controversial, politician who launched a "smashing black, singing red" campaign in the southwestern city of Chongqing that promoted Communist ideology and zealously cracked down on organized crime.
His economic programs, which included millions spent on social welfare, made him a popular leader in Chongqing. But analysts say his populist policies and high-profile personal style were seen as a challenge to the more economically liberal and reform-oriented faction that dominates the current party leadership.
Bo's fortunes changed when news surfaced this year that his wife, Gu Kailai, was suspected to be an accomplice in a murder case. Gu and family aide Zhang Xiaojun were arrested in early April, suspected of poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood.
Heywood died in November in Chongqing, where Bo was the Communist Party chief. His death was originally blamed on excessive alcohol consumption.
Bo was soon stripped of his top posts for "serious breach of discipline." In August, his wife received a suspended death sentence after a seven-hour trial. Days later, four senior Chongqing police officers were also sentenced to jail for covering up the murder.
Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing, set off the Bo story on February 6, when he fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu and told American diplomats that Gu was a suspected accomplice in a murder case.
After his request for asylum was turned down, Wang left the consulate and was taken away by Chinese officials. But his accusations rocked the world's most populous nation.
Wang this week was sentenced to 15 years for defection, coverup, bribe taking and abuse of power.
The party expelled Bo after an investigation of the killing and Wang's visit to the consulate, a trip made "without permission," Xinhua said.
The investigators said Bo "bore major responsibility" in the Wang incident and the killing, Xinhua reported, citing the investigation results.
"He took advantage of his office to seek profits for others and received huge bribes personally and through his family. His position was also abused by his wife ... to seek profits for others and his family thereby accepted a huge amount of money and property from others," Xinhua said.
Investigators determined that his behavior tarnished the party's reputation, Xinhua reported. The investigation discovered "clues to his suspected involvement in other crimes." The party investigators sent their conclusions to judicial authorities.
"Bo had affairs and maintained improper sexual relationships with a number of women. He was also found to have violated organizational and personnel disciplines and made wrong decisions in personnel promotion, which led to serious consequences."
The trials and convictions have been carefully scripted and apparently timed to "deal" with Bo ahead of the planned leadership transition at the Communist Party's 18th National Congress.