China / Society

Graft watchdog steps up SOE investigations

By ZHANG YAN (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-17 07:27

74 senior directors have been probed in corruption cases so far this year

The top anti-graft watchdog is to intensify its efforts to uncover corruption in State-owned enterprises.

More than 70 senior directors from such companies have been investigated for suspected graft since January, said a senior official from the Party's Central Commission of Discipline Inspection.

SOEs' operations are closely linked to national economic security, and corruption causes huge losses and seriously threatens the rule of the Party, Hao Mingjin, vice-minister of supervision under the CCDI, said in an interview on the commission's website.

"Some SOE directors have colluded with foreign forces to trade national assets in return for huge bribes, and we will fight such cases resolutely," he added.

He said that since January, the CCDI has been collecting and classifying information provided by the public while carrying out inspections of SOEs to gather further tipoffs.

According to the commission, 74 senior directors of SOEs were placed under investigation for alleged corruption between January and November, 59 percent more during that period in 2013.

Those being probed include Jiang Jiemin, former chairman of the China National Petroleum Corp; Song Lin, former chairman of the China Resources Group; and Wang Shuaiting, former vice-chairman of China Travel Services Hong Kong.

Since November 2012, when the new leadership took office, President Xi Jinping has conducted a sweeping campaign against corruption. The CCDI has sent inspectors on six rounds of inspections in key provinces and regions, educational institutes and central authorities and administrations, including SOEs, to gather information about corrupt officials.

In early December, the investigators visited eight SOEs, including Sinopec and China Unicom, and five other central administrations.

During the inspections, Xue Wandong, former manager of a petroleum engineering technology subsidiary of Sinopec, and Zhang Zhijiang, former deputy director of China Unicom's network unit, were taken for questioning about alleged in corruption.

Sinopec said on Tuesday that it will investigate the conduct of some managers and reshuffle a number of senior posts.

"Once we suspect someone is guilty of malpractice, regardless of who it is, we will undertake a thorough investigation without any leniency," Sinopec said in a statement.

Hao said most of the suspects in SOEs were in charge of valuable resources, including petroleum, gas, coal, and electricity. They were very powerful and operated without proper supervision, and this created opportunities for misconduct.

Others abused their positions by arranging for their spouses and children to operate businesses, gain benefits for other companies and accept huge bribes, he said.

"Although some progress have been made in combating corruption in SOEs, we still face a difficult task to uncover more cases," he said.

Cheng Lei, a law professor at Renmin University of China, said the priority is to strengthen inspections of SOEs and employ more professional personnel to gather information.

In addition, he said, managers in SOEs who are found to have behaved in a corrupt way should be transferred to the judicial system to face trial immediately after the discipline inspection departments complete their investigations.

Du Juan contributed to this story.

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