The Chinese Communist Party has suspended Politburo member Bo Xilai, while his wife Gu Kailai has been named a prime suspect in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Bo had already been removed from his position as party chief in the western city of Chongqing in February. The Politburo is a 24-member committee of the highest-ranking party officials.
"Comrade Bo Xilai is suspected of being involved in serious disciplinary violations," state media outlet Xinhua reported.
Bo's suspension comes as Chinese authorities have ruled Heywood's death -- initially attributed to alcohol poisoning -- a homicide, and identified Bo's wife Gu as a prime suspect. Heywood was found dead in his hotel room in Chongqing on Nov. 15, 2011.
"According to reinvestigation results, the existing evidence indicated that Heywood died of homicide, of which Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun, an orderly at Bo's home, are highly suspected," Xinhua reported.
Xinhua reported that Heywood had close business ties with Bo's family, but that "conflict over economic interests" had intensified, leading to a falling out.
Evidence against Gu might have been presented to authorities by Chongqing deputy mayor and former police chief Wang Lijun after he sought asylum at the U.S. consulate back in February, Reuters reported.
Wang had worked closely as Chongqing's police chief with Bo to crack down on organized crime and root out corrupt government officials in the city, but his visit to the U.S. consulate indicated a rift between the former colleagues, and has been the source of numerous rumors of Bo's corruption, which have only been fueled by his systematic removal from power.
Both Bo and Wang are presumed to currently be held in Beijing under government surveillance, though no information has been released on their whereabouts. Gu and Zhang have been taken into police custody, Xinhua reported.