BEIJING (AP) — China's ruling Communist Party has punished 21 officials over a scandal in which they allegedly were extorted by real estate developers after being secretly filmed in liaisons with hired women.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday that the party's disciplinary body in the central city of Chongqing had stripped former local district party chief Lei Zhengfu of his party membership. The scandal broke after footage of Lei having sex with one of the women was leaked on the Internet. Images of his jowly, pop-eyed face have become targets of derision and disgust over government malfeasance.
Last week, Lei was indicted on charges of accepting bribes.
Other officials were placed under investigation for suspected corruption or given administrative punishments.
The scandal has exposed the intertwining of sex, money and politics and the often shady ties between real estate developers and local officials. China's new leadership has vowed to crack down on rampant official corruption.
Authorities have also been investigating the developers behind the alleged extortion scheme. State media say Chongqing prosecutors are preparing to file extortion and blackmail charges against six people, including the man who allegedly masterminded the scheme and the woman who was allegedly hired to sleep with Lei.