ICBC Punishes 137 Staff Amid Finance Industry Graft Probe

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  • Some workers expelled from Communist Party, others warned
  • China's anti-graft agency carrying out broad industry checks

China’s biggest bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., said it punished 137 staff for breaches of Communist Party discipline, such as accepting gifts or starting their own businesses, as a corruption crackdown sweeps through the nation’s finance industry.

Fourteen people were expelled from the party or removed from their posts, while others were warned, the bank’s disciplinary committee said in a statement Tuesday on the website of the party’s anti-graft agency.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the anti-corruption body, indicated in October that it would carry out its first broad checks on the finance industry since China’s President Xi Jinping became party head in November 2012.

At ICBC, the violations included workers participating in trips funded by clients; starting their own businesses; and accepting gifts from subordinates during wedding ceremonies or funerals, the lender said in the statement.

The five biggest state-owned lenders, the central bank and the banking, securities and insurance regulators are among 31 entities under scrutiny by the CCDI.

Under Scrutiny

Party discipline branches at Citic Group Corp., China Investment Corp. and China Construction Bank Corp. had dished out similar penalties for their employees, according to statements on the anti-corruption agency’s website.

Citic Group, parent of China’s largest brokerage, has had 37 employees penalized for offences dating back as far as 2002, such as overspending on overseas field trips, according to a Nov. 29 statement.

The party discipline committee at China Investment Corp., the sovereign investment fund, punished 10 executives at brokerage unit Shenwan Hongyuan Securities Co. for violations including using company funds for personal golf games and baijiu liquor, according to a separate statement on the CCDI’s website the same day. Construction Bank, China’s second-largest lender, punished nine people for violating party discipline, according to a Dec. 3 statement.

Personal Reasons

A range of investigations since China’s summer stock rout have entangled executives from the nation’s biggest brokerage, Citic Securities Co., and senior officials at the China Securities Regulatory Commission -- among others.

Citic Securities said on Sunday that it was unable to contact two of its executives. Should their involvement with the probes be confirmed, it would bring to at least 10 the number of the firm’s executives under investigation or assisting with investigations.

At one of the nation’s five largest lenders, Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., President Zhang Yun resigned for “personal reasons,” the bank said on Dec. 4, after an earlier Nanfang Daily report that he had been demoted by the Communist Party.