CCB denies claims it hid bad loans

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-20 06:46

China Construction Bank (CCB) denied a report by The New York Times that the bank had intentionally hid US$3 billion in bad loans before it went public last year.

In a statement posted on its official website last Wednesday, the bank said the accusation was groundless.

In an article on non-performing loans in Chinese banks, The New York Times quoted an unidentified former CCB risk adviser as saying that up to US$3 billion in bad loans had been intentionally hidden from outside auditors months before the bank's first sale of stock to public investors in October last year.

In its denial, the CCB stressed that it had strictly followed domestic and international reporting regulations and had released all information in accordance with relevant regulations before it went public.

"Also, our bank has established strict loan-category and categorization procedures. The outside auditor KPMG audited the prospectus, including the fiscal report. KPMG's audit report was unreserved," said the statement.

"The bank is willing to provide accurate information to stockholders and the public, according to market rules and regulations. And the bank will also take legal action against defamation," said the statement.

Meanwhile, analysts described the accusation as illogical.

"In addition to KPMG, Morgan Stanley, as the major sales agent for CCB's IPO (initial public offering), also audited the bank carefully for its own benefit. US$3 billion is not a small figure that would be easy to conceal from these leading auditors," an analyst was quoted by the Economic Observer as saying.

In response to queries from foreign investors wondering why CCB's bad loan ratio had dropped so sharply between 2002 and 2004, analysts said that the country had spent almost 460 billion yuan (US$57.5 billion) to resolve the bad assets plaguing the bank.

The 21st Century Economic Report identified the unnamed risk adviser quoted by the New York Times as Deng Kai, 44, a graduate of Peking University's Maths Department who went on to earn a doctoral degree from Indiana State University in the United States.

The newspaper countered Deng's claims that he had been a senior official at Citibank and HSBC, reporting that he had only been an ordinary staff member at the two banks before joining the CCB through a personal relationship with former CCB head Zhang Enzhao. Zhang was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for accepting bribes.

The New York Times reported that CCB fired Deng for his statements to the press, but bank officials insisted they had dismissed him because he had faked evidence that he had submitted in connection with sick leave. They also said he had done poorly in the bank's annual performance evaluation.

The CCB, one of China's four major State-owned commercial banks, went public in Hong Kong in October last year. It raised US$8 billion in its initial public offering.

It was the first of the big four along with Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to list its shares overseas.

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