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Life sentence for Bo Xilai

The highest China official to face corruption charges was convicted Sunday and sentenced to life in prison.

Bo Xilai, once a member of the all-powerful Communist Party Politburo, was convicted of graft, embezzlement, and abuse of power.

The Jinan Intermediate People’s Court in eastern China also said Bo tried to cover up his wife’s guilt in the murder of a U.K. businessman.

Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, had appeared at the five-day trial as a witness for the prosecution. She testified about Bo’s adultery, bribery, and abuse of office when he was in charge of the industrial region of Chongqing in southwest China, where he served as the Communist Party secretary.

Bo had also been minister of commerce until he fell victim to President Xi Jinping’s fierce anti-corruption campaign.

In 2012, Bo was kicked out of the Communist Party and stripped of his official duties.

During his trial in August, his wife gave details about a $3 million villa she bought on the French Riviera using money from a China chemical tycoon.

The property was later registered in the name Neil Heywood, a U.K. businessman who sometimes helped Bo’s wife in her business deals.

She and Heywood had a dispute in 2011 over his reimbursement of $2.3 million for expenses. He threatened to expose Gu’s overseas wealth if she didn’t pay.

He was found dead in 2011 in a Chongqing hotel. Gu later confessed to killing him with poison.

In a deal with prosecutors in 2012, she pleaded guilty and was given a suspended death sentence, which in China usually amounts to life in prison.

Prosecutors said Bo took $4.4 million in bribes and embezzled money from the state. He denied knowing about the financial dealings of his wife, who he said was mentally unstable.

In a letter he wrote from jail last week, Bo again declared his innocence and said he would one day clear his name.

His father, Bo Yibo, was also jailed but went on to earn respect as a leader of the Communist Party’s Cultural Revolution.

‘I will wait quietly in the prison,’ Bo said in the letter. ‘My father was jailed many times. I will follow his footsteps.’

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Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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