Revelations in U.K. businessman's death in China

British businessman Neil Heywood is seen in this undated photo taken at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. REUTERS/Stringer

British businessman Neil Heywood is seen in this undated photo taken at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He was found dead in a hotel in Chongqing last November, and sources close to a police inquiry say he was poisoned.
REUTERS/Stringer
(CBS News) New light is being shown upon the scandal involving the mysterious death of a British businessman in China, and of his ties to a former Politburo member and the Chinese official's wife now jailed for murder.

The revelations about Neil Heywood, 41, which have come to light since he was found dead November 15 in Chongqing, have already scuttled the prospects of a prominent government official, Bo Xilai, who was jockeying for a leadership position in the country's ruling Politburo.

Last week the Chinese government said that Heywood's death, which was at first classified a case of alcohol poisoning, was murder. Bo's wife, a lawyer named Gu Kailai, was taken into custody for complicity in Heywood's death. No further details were released, beyond Chinese state media's report that Heywood was killed following a financial dispute.

Reuters has reported that, according to sources familiar with the police investigation, Heywood was poisoned. He died at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel in Chongqing's Nan'an district.

The New York Times reported Monday that sources indicate Heywood - who had a long relationship with Bo and Gu - was involved in facilitating large, illicit transfers of money overseas for Bo's family. Heywood is also said to have helped Bo's son, Guagua, gain entrance to elite British schools.

Bo Xilai scandal engulfs Chinese leadership
Bo Xilai, who was stripped of his Communist Party positions in the wake of the scandal involving the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.
CBS News
In February a top aide of Bo's, former police chief Wang Lijun, went to a U.S consulate and accused Bo's wife of ordering the murder of Heywood. Reuters reported that, according to its sources, Heywood and Gu had argued over Heywood's payment for moving a "substantial" sum of money out of China.

Gu reportedly accused Heywood of being greedy and planned to kill him after he mentioned that he could expose her, one source summarizing the police case told Reuters.

A party source with ties to Bo's family that Wang had contacted party officials, accusing Gu of transferring up to several hundred million dollars out of China. Bo, his wife and their affiliates had come under increased scrutiny by the party over their business dealings, and the accusations by Wang only added fuel to the fire.

Bo Xilai has not been seen since his appearance in parliament last month, at a news conference in which he slammed the accusations made against his family. Last week he was stripped of his positions in the Communist Party.

Gu faces a possible death penalty for murder.

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

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