Lowly Beijing official embezzled $180m: Media

BEIJING - Anti-graft authorities have busted a low-level Beijing official for allegedly embezzling more than US$130 million (S$180 million) , state media reported - one of the largest amounts revealed in the corruption crackdown under President Xi Jinping.

Zhang Peishan, a former low-ranking agricultural services official in a Beijing suburb, misappropriated 821 million yuan (S$180 million) from 2008 to 2014, according to a report by the official Xinhua news agency.

The funds were used for financial investments, it added at the weekend, citing the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the anti-graft arm of China's ruling Communist Party.

Zhang placed three million yuan of the pilfered money into a personal investment account and kept the earnings from it.

It was not clear whether the huge total included any profits he had reaped from Chinese stocks, which powered up more than 150 percent in the 12 months to June 12, before plunging.

Zhang has been deprived of his party membership and his case has been turned over to judicial authorities, Xinhua said.

Under Xi's leadership the Communist Party has declared a tough approach to root out graft, which he has warned threatens its continued rule in the face of public anger with corrupt officials.

Xi has vowed to target both high-level "tigers" and low-ranking "flies", but critics say the drive is vulnerable to being used as a way to settle political scores within the almost 88 million-member party.