China's former head of religious affairs body expelled from Communist Party

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's former head of the National Religious Affairs Administration has been expelled from the Communist Party and removed from public office over "serious" violations and suspected bribery, the country's anti-graft watchdog said on Wednesday.

Cui Maohu, who also served as deputy head of the United Front Work Department, was found to have "illegally occupied arable land to engage in vanity projects," the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Commission of Supervision said in a statement.

An investigation also found Cui to have accepted "banquets and tourism activities that could affect official duties", received gifts and property, and used his position of power to obtain sex and money, the watchdog said.

Cui was fired from his post at the religious affairs body and put under investigation in March, days after China's new cabinet started its new term.

He was replaced by Chen Ruifeng, who was also named deputy director of the United Front Work Department.

(Reporting by Ethan Wang and Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)