China’s state prosecutor on Friday formally charged a former senior aide to retired president Hu Jintao with taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power.
The ruling Communist Party announced an investigation into in December 2014. He had been demoted in September, 2012 from a ministerial-level job months after his son was killed in a crash involving a luxury sports car.
The charges are the latest development in a case that the party has said did major damage to its image.
Ling used his many high-ranking positions in government as a way to solicit bribes, seek favours for friends and illegally obtain state secrets, the prosecutor said, without specifying what the secrets were.
The circumstances were “extremely serious”, the prosecutor added in a statement.
It has not been possible to reach Ling for comment and it is not clear if he has been allowed to retain a lawyer.
Ling’s case has presented a dilemma for the government. His position is sensitive because of his close connection with former president Hu, President Xi Jinping’s predecessor.
The formal charges pave the way for a criminal trial, but because Ling is accused of stealing state secrets, the proceedings may be closed to the public.
Since taking power in late 2012, Xi has made tackling corruption a cornerstone of his administration, waging a far-reaching campaign that has felled many of his political opponents, including the once-powerful domestic security tsar Zhou Yongkang.