Known as security czar for heading the internal security until 2012, Zhou was the ninth-ranking member in the nine-member Standing Committee of the CPC headed by former President Hu Jintao.

Zhou, 72, was arrested and expelled from the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) yesterday. He is the first top leader of the CPC since Mao era to face such ignominious fate.

Zhou was expelled from the CPC after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the party's Central Committee last night, state-run news agency reported.

Besides corruption, he faces other charges, including helping mistresses and trading power for sex and money and leaking state secrets.

The investigation found that Zhou seriously violated the Party's political, organisational and confidentiality discipline. He took advantage of his posts to seek profits for others and accepted huge bribes personally and through his family, a CPC statement said.

He abused his power to help relatives, mistresses and friends make huge profits from operating businesses, resulting in serious losses of state-owned assets, it said.

Zhou leaked the Party's and country's secrets, it said.

He seriously violated self-disciplinary regulations and accepted a large amount of money and properties personally and through his family, the statement said.

Zhou committed adultery with a number of women and traded his power for sex and money, it said, adding that other clues of suspected crimes by Zhou were also found during the investigation.

"What Zhou did completely deviated from the Party's nature and mission, and seriously violated Party discipline. His behaviour badly undermined the reputation of the Party, significantly damaged the cause of the Party and the people, and have yielded serious consequences," the statement said.

He retired after the incumbent President, Xi Jinping who was the Vice President in the previous administration took over power last year.

Zhou's arrest would break the well followed convention of not to prosecute the retired leaders for the first time.

Besides being the internal security head who even tried to spy on Hu, Zhou was stated to be close to the disgraced former senior leader, Bo Xilai who was currently serving a life sentence for aiding his wife in the murder of a British businessman.

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