By Chris Buckley

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party accused disgraced former senior politician Bo Xilai of abusing his power, taking huge bribes and other crimes on Friday, opening a new phase in a scandal of murder and cover-ups that has shaken a leadership succession due at a congress to start on November 8.

Bo will be handed over for criminal investigation, state media reported.

Bo's wife Gu Kailai and his former police chief Wang Lijun have both been jailed over the scandal stemming from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in the southwestern city of Chongqing, where Bo was Communist Party chief.

A government statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency said that in the murder scandal, Bo "abused his powers of office, committed serious errors and bears a major responsibility".

"Bo Xilai's actions created grave repercussions, and massively damaged the reputation of the party and the state," it said.

Bo has been expelled from the party as well as the elite decision-making Politburo and Central Committee "in view of his errors and culpability in the Wang Lijun incident and the intentional homicide case involving Bogu Kailai".

Bogu is his wife's official but rarely used surname.

Bo's "grave violations of party discipline" extended back to his time as an official in Dalian and Liaoning, and as minister of commerce, said the statement, carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The announcement comes weeks before the Chinese Communist Party holds a congress that will unveil the country's new central leadership line-up. The congress starts in Beijing on November 8.

Bo, 63, was widely seen as pursuing a powerful spot in the new political line-up before his career unraveled after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate for more than 24 hours in February and alleged that Bo's wife Gu had poisoned Heywood to death.

The statement also said that Bo "had or maintained improper sexual relations with multiple women".

It also said that the investigation also discovered clues of other, unspecified crimes.

"Bo Xilai's actions created grave repercussions and did massive harm to the reputation of the party and state, producing an extremely malign effect at home and abroad."

(Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)