BEIJING: The son of a disgraced Chinese leader being investigated for massive corruption has denied reports he drove a Ferrari and said his expensive overseas education was funded by scholarships and family “savings”.
Bo Guagua, who is currently studying at Harvard in the United States, has come under intense scrutiny since his father Bo Xilai and mother Gu Kailai became implicated in the biggest political scandal to hit China in decades.
His partying and alleged extravagant lifestyle have triggered criticism in a country where the rich-poor divide is widening and anger over corruption and perceived impunity among leaders and their children is on the rise.
In a statement to The Harvard Crimson — Harvard’s university newspaper — the 24-year-old broke his weeks-long silence and attempted to address questions about how his parents managed to fund his prestigious education overseas.
“My tuition and living expenses at Harrow School, University of Oxford and Harvard University were funded exclusively by two sources — scholarships earned independently, and my mother’s generosity from the savings she earned from her years as a successful lawyer and writer,” he wrote.
Gu is currently under investigation in China for the suspected murder of British national Neil Heywood, who reportedly facilitated Bo Guagua’s entry into Britain’s exclusive Harrow School.
Bo Xilai, meanwhile, was sacked from his post as boss of Chongqing city last month and then suspended from the Communist Party’s hugely powerful, 25-member Politburo for “serious discipline violations” — code in China for graft.
Even before his father’s ouster, pictures of Bo Guagua had emerged online showing him partying at Oxford and rumours spread that he drove a Ferrari.
But in his statement published on Tuesday in the United States, he said he had never driven a Ferrari, adding that like most students at Oxford, he had attended “Bops”, a type of social event.
When it announced his mother’s probe for murder earlier this month, the official Xinhua news agency also implicated Bo Guagua, saying he and Gu “had conflict” with Heywood “over economic interests, which had been intensified”.
But in the statement, Bo Guagua said he had never lent his name or participated in any for-profit businesses or ventures in China or abroad.