BEIJING (Reuters) - A former deputy head of China's top planning agency has been thrown out of the Communist Party and will be prosecuted for corruption, state media said on Thursday, after allegations against him were first posted online.
Liu Tienan was sacked in May. Luo Changping, deputy editor-in-chief of the investigative magazine Caijing, posted accusations on his microblog last December that Liu was involved in a number of illegal activities.
"Liu Tienan took advantage of his position to seek profits for others, and both Liu and his family accepted a huge amount of bribes," the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement from the party's graft-fighting watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
Liu "sought benefits for his relatives' businesses by breaking relevant regulations, accepting cash and gifts", the news agency added.
Liu was also "morally degenerate", Xinhua said in a brief report, without providing other details of the accusations.
He had been handed over to the judicial authorities, Xinhua added, who will formally charge him and take his case to court.
The National Development and Reform Commission which Liu used to work for, is a powerful body that sets broad economic policies and approves major investments.
Until March of this year, Liu was also head of the energy regulatory body, the National Energy Administration. He was replaced in that role following the rumours he was involved in a corruption scandal.
State media has previously reported that Liu had taken bribes for helping a businessman to defraud banks of loans of more than $200 million in 2011 for an investment in Canada and that key information on Liu's case was initially divulged by a former mistress in Japan.
He is believed to be the first ministerial-level official to face an investigation stemming from accusations on the Internet, which the party has been trying to use to uncover graft, albeit with mixed results.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took office in March, has made fighting pervasive corruption a central theme of his administration, warning the problem is so severe it could threaten the party's very survival.
A former railways minister, Liu Zhijun, was given a suspended death penalty in July for accepting bribes, but the most sensational case is likely to be that of former high-flying politician Bo Xilai, expected to face trial this month.
Bo, party boss of the southwestern city of Chongqing until he was dramatically sacked early last year, has been charged with corruption, accepting bribes and abuse of power.
Bo is certain to be found guilty. His wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have both been convicted and jailed over the scandal, which stems from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)