CHANGSHA, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- More than 500 lawmakers in central China's Hunan Province have been disqualified, dismissed or resigned for electoral fraud, local legislature announced Saturday.
Altogether 527 municipal lawmakers were present at an election for provincial lawmakers during the first session of the 14th Hengyang municipal people's congress, the local legislative body, in Hunan between Dec. 28, 2012 and Jan. 3, 2013, according to a statement issued by the Hunan provincial people's congress.
Preliminary investigation shows the 56 lawmakers elected to the provincial legislature offered bribes to 518 of the municipal lawmakers and another 68 staff. The total amount of money involved exceeded 110 million yuan (18.14 million U.S. dollars), the statement said.
The provincial legislature disqualified the 56 during a plenary meeting which concluded on Saturday, while county-level legislative bodies in Hengyang City accepted the resignations of the 512 who took bribes.
Another five provincial lawmakers who didn't offer bribes were nonetheless dismissed for "serious dereliction of duty," the statement said. Three municipal lawmakers who didn't accept bribes resigned, also for "serious dereliction of duty."
Another six municipal lawmakers who took bribes had already been transferred outside of the city and were no longer in their posts.
Tong Mingqian, then Party chief of Hengyang, was in charge of the election.
"Tong breached his duty as an official in charge and was directly responsible for this case," the statement said.
On Dec. 21, he was sacked from his new post as vice chairman of the Hunan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. He has been under investigation by the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
The fraud, involving such a huge number of lawmakers and a large amount of money, is serious in nature and has a vile impact, the statement said.
"This is a challenge to China's system of people's congresses, socialist democracy, law and Party discipline," it said.
Those involved must be subject to strict scrutiny and harsh punishment, in line with the law and Party discipline, it said.
The provincial authorities have begun investigation into the Party members and civil servants involved. Those suspected of breaking the law have been transferred to prosecutors.
"If more are found to have broken the law, they will also be passed to judicial authorities," it said.