Former party boss of China's Guangzhou jailed for life for graft

September 29, 2016 9:59 PM EDT

Wan Qingliang, Former Communist Party Secretary of Guangzhou, gestures as he speaks at a meeting in Guangzhou, February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court jailed the former Communist Party boss of the southern city of Guangzhou for life on Friday after finding him guilty of corruption, the latest official to fall in President Xi Jinping's sweeping war on graft.

Wan Qingliang was put under party investigation in 2014, before being handed over to legal authorities for prosecution.

The court in Nanning city said on its official microblog that Wan had taken more than 100 million yuan ($15 million) in bribes, gifts and from extortion in exchange for help with promotions and project approvals.

The court also ordered that all of his assets be seized.

Wan admitted his guilt and handed over evidence not previously discovered in the investigation, resulting in a lighter sentence, the court said.

While the court did not give an explanation, he could have received the death penalty for such serious crimes.

It was not possible to reach any of Wan's family members or legal representatives for comment.

Courts are controlled by the party and do not challenge party accusations, especially in corruption cases, meaning there had never been any doubt that he would be found guilty.

The court said his crimes dated back to 2000, during which time he abused his position as head of the Communist Party Youth League in the southern province of Guangdong, where Guangzhou is located, as well as other subsequent provincial positions.

Guangdong is one of China's export hubs, and Guangzhou is the provincial capital. As party boss, Wan was the city's most senior official, outranking the mayor.

Separately, a court in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo said it had jailed Wang Min, the former party boss of the northern city of Jinan, for 12 years for taking bribes.

It was also not possible to reach Wang's relatives or legal representatives for comment. Jinan is the capital of Shandong province.

China is in the midst of a sweeping campaign against deep-rooted corruption launched by Xi after he assumed power almost four years ago, warning the problem was so serious it threatened the party's survival.

($1 = 6.6696 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Gao Liangping; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Robert Birsel)

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