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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's anti-graft watchdog said on Wednesday one of its former senior inspectors had been expelled from the Communist Party after an investigation found he had abused his position to receive bribes.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a statement on its website that Zhang Huawei, a vice-ministerial level inspector from the Central Inspection Team, had "lost his ideals and convictions", and damaged the reputation of the commission.

It said Zhang's case would be referred for prosecution.

Zhang could not be reached for comment.

The CCDI's powerful inspection teams are sent by central authorities to identify malfeasance within party organisations and provincial government bodies.

The CCDI first announced an investigation into Zhang in April as it ramped up a campaign to expose corruption within its own ranks.

Respected Chinese financial magazine Caixin reported at the time that Zhang's detention was likely linked with the commission's probe into the finance sector. Insurance regulator Xiang Junbo was placed under investigation earlier that month.

The CCDI has tried since the start of 2017 to show it is serious about tackling corruption within its own ranks, which it refers to as "darkness hiding beneath the light".

It began the year by airing a three-part television series focussing on cases where graft-busters had been caught on the take and releasing a new series of rules to guard against abuses of power by disciplinary officials.

The CCDI's drive to "clean one's own doorstep" comes as Beijing mulls sweeping changes to its anti-graft architecture to create a National Supervision Commission, and is set to incorporate various corruption-fighting bodies into a single powerful entity.

(Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Paul Tait)

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Reuters