Zhou Yongkang, who oversaw China’s security apparatus and law enforcement institutions, has been charged with bribery, abuse of power and the intentional disclosure of state secrets, state media report.
The former security chief was, until his retirement in 2012, one of China’s most powerful men.
Zhou Yongkang headed the Ministry of Public Security and was a member of China’s top decision-making body.
Once Xi Jinping took over as president in 2013, however, Zhou Yongkang was put under investigation.
A formal probe was announced in July 2014, after months of rumors, and he has since been expelled from the Communist Party.
The head of China’s top court said last month he would have an “open trial”, though no date has been announced.
In a brief statement, China’s top prosecution body said that the allegations against Zhou Yongkang were “extraordinarily severe”.
“The defendant Zhou Yongkang… took advantage of his posts to seek gains for others and illegally took huge property and assets from others, abused his power, causing huge losses to public property and the interests of the state and the people,” the statement said.
Zhou Yongkang, who is in his 70s, is the most senior official to be targeted in decades.
He was previously one of nine members of China’s highest organ, the Politburo Standing Committee. It has since shrunk to seven members.
Zhou Yongkang has not been seen in public since late 2013, when rumors of a probe first emerged.
A number of his former associates from his time both in the oil industry and as Communist Party chief in Sichuan province are already being investigated or prosecuted as part of Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown.
Zhou Yongkang’s former protégé, former Chongqing Communist Party chief and high-flyer Bo Xilai, is currently in prison on charges linked to his wife’s murder of a British businessman.
Analysts say the investigation into Zhou Yongkang allows Xi Jinping – who took office as president in March 2013 – to consolidate his power base, remove people opposed to his reforms and improve the image of the Communist Party.
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