Official watched and smoked out

08:42, March 24, 2009

An official from Nanjing, whose ultra-lavish lifestyle became a matter of national debate last year after he was spotted in an online photograph wearing a luxurious wristwatch and smoking expensive cigarettes, has been expelled from his administrative and Party posts "for accepting bribes".

Investigations have revealed that Zhou Jiugeng, director of the housing authorities of Jiangning district, Nanjing, Jiangsu province, took bribes worth "a few hundred thousand yuan", the Nanjing Daily quoted the local municipal commission for inspecting discipline and supervision bureau as saying.

It added that some other corruption cases against Zhou were still being probed.

Zhou's case will now be handled by judicial authorities, the paper said.

Last December, an unidentified Internet user posted a picture of 48-year-old Zhou wearing a 100,000-yuan Vacheron Constantin watch, with a packet of cigarettes, which costs 150 yuan, kept in front of him during an official meeting.

It was later found that Zhou drove a Cadillac to work.

Just days before the online expose, Zhou's remark that property developers who sell houses below cost should be prosecuted was widely criticized.

The official was suspended from his administrative post on Dec 28, pending a probe for his remarks and misusing public fund.

The municipal commission for inspecting discipline launched a probe into Zhou's financial assets on Feb 13.

The commission said though more cases of corruption against Zhou were still under investigation, he has already been officially removed from his administrative and Party posts.

Thanking the public for joining the government's battle against corruption, the bureau said it now recognized the Internet as a "new channel" to hear public opinion.

The municipal authorities also earned a lot of praise online for taking public tip-offs seriously and launching speedy investigations.

Source: China Daily

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