Ex-aide to former president Hu Jintao, Ling Jihua, was sentenced to life in prison on July 4th for abuse of power, corruption and illegally obtaining state secrets.
Ling pleaded guilty to the charges and decided not to appeal to the court. He did, however, add that he was “grateful for the court’s impartial judgment,” Xinhua reports.
He was convicted of taking $11.57 million in bribes and using his personal influences to secure promotions for his associates. Analysts speculate that Ling was also responsible for disclosing certain sensitive financial information regarding ex-Premier Wen Jiabao’s family to the New York Times, violating the “unwritten rules” of the Communist Party.
Before the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Ling was thought to be one of the top candidates for the (now) seven-man Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), the pinnacle of Chinese government and politics. However, Ling’s political life came to an unceremonious end when his son was involved in an infamous Ferrari crash in March 2012. The $1 million black Ferrari 458 Spider was reportedly going so fast at that the time that it split into two when it hit a bridge. Ling’s son and two female passengers were found dead at the scene, either partially or entirely naked.
Authorities finally announced an investigation into Ling in late 2014 and he was formally placed under arrest in July 2015, accused of accepting bribes and committing adultery with various women, “trading his power for sex.”
State media has placed Ling beside other “tigers” snared up in Xi Jinping’s high-profile anti-corruption campaign, including ex-Chongqing head Bo Xilai, ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang and ex-general Xu Caihou, calling the four prominent, and corrupt, politicians the “New Gang of Four.”
These four officials have also been accused of organizing factions within the Party, in an attempt at taking down President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, even through assassination or coup d’état. Rumors also tie some of them back to former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
Ling reportedly set up the “Xishan Society,” a secret association of prominent politicians and businessmen from shady Shanxi province. Shanxi has been one of the focal points of Xi’s austerity drive because of its notoriously corrupt political scene. According to data from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, in 2013 alone, more than 12,000 government officials were punished in Shanxi province for corruption-related activities.
While Ling will spend the rest of his life behind bars, his bro is over in America, living the good life, sharing “golf secrets” with Washington — and definitely not nuclear ones.