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CCB removes two senior leaders amid listing
Updated: 2005-05-30 08:31

Scandal-ridden China Construction Bank has removed two senior officials in a bid to present a clean image to potential investors ahead of a planned overseas share sale, state media reported.

A woman sweeps garbage off the street in front of a branch of China Construction Bank in Beijing in this undated file photo. The bank has removed two senior officials in a bid to present a clean image ahead of a planned overseas share sale, a report says. [AFP]
The heads of two provincial branches have left office to take the blame for financial crimes and irregularities that happened at outlets under their jurisdiction, the Xinhua news agency reported.

"We made the decision to build the sense of responsibility and tighten up rule enforcement at the entire bank," an unnamed spokesman at China's third-largest bank told Xinhua.

The bank's headquarters said it had accepted the resignation of Liang Fucheng, president of the branch in the northern province of Shanxi, and Sun Jiancheng, president of the Hunan provincial branch in central China.

Since Sun took over his job in October 2003, nine major cases of misdemeanors have been uncovered in Hunan, amounting to a total of 30 million yuan (3.6 million dollars), the Beijing News reported.

"There has been no obvious improvement in operations since Sun took over," the paper commented.

The bank has been extra sensitive to suspicions of wrongdoing after its former chairman Zhang Enzhao stepped down amid media reports of corruption earlier this year.

Despite the high-profile resignation, the bank is forging ahead with plans to raise up to five billion dollars in an initial public offering overseas, state media has reported.

China Construction Bank, along with Bank of China, another state bank, is undergoing restructuring in preparation for a global stock offering.

Guo Shuqing, the bank's new chairman who took over from Zhang, has been quoted by state media as saying the bank's management team will accomplish the listing this year and the bank will speed up its talks with foreign investors.

The two branch heads are the first to fall foul of new rules at China Construction Bank requiring leading staff members who "grossly neglect their duty" to take the blame and resign, regardless of their position.

"The leader should resign if his or her breach of duty results in economic crime or irregularities committed by his or her subordinates," Xinhua said, quoting the regulations.

"Those in charge of bank branches or business outlets should also be severely punished if such cases were uncovered by their superiors or state supervision departments."

Doubts about corporate governance at the bank -- and at others also planning to list such as Bank of China -- have increased recently following a series of scandals involving fraud and embezzlement worth millions of dollars.

Reports emerged earlier this year that eight million dollars had gone missing from one of China Construction Bank's branches in northeastern Jilin province, along with one or two officials.

Bank of China, the nation's number two lender, is also looking into the disappearance of an huge sum of money from a sub-branch in Harbin near the Russian border.

In that case, reports have indicated that at least two officials fled the country after embezzling up to one billion yuan (120 million dollars) of funds deposited by a number of mainland companies.

It is believed that the China Construction Bank and Bank of China are under immense pressure from the government to perform better.

In late 2003, as part of efforts to prepare them for its overseas listing, the central government provided each with a 22.5-billion-dollar fund injection taken directly from the nation's foreign exchange reserves.

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