Ex-chief of China asset management firm prosecuted for graft

A man (bottom left) cycles past the No.1 Intermediate People’s Court in the northern city of Tianjin on April 12, 2018, where a former top Chinese Communist Party official who was once tipped for a leadership post pled guilty at his bribery trial. (AFP pic)

BEIJING: The former chairman of a Chinese state-controlled asset management firm will be prosecuted for corruption, authorities said Monday, the latest senior figure to be felled in the government’s anti-corruption dragnet.

Lai Xiaomin, chairman of the Hong Kong-listed China Huarong Asset Management Co, will face prosecution for “serious violations of the law”, the National Supervisory Commission and the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a joint statement.

“Lai Xiaomin violated political discipline and political rules… squandered state property (and) violated party ethics by attending banquets in private clubs and high-end restaurants; arranging or accepting subordinates using public funds to pay for relatives’ travels,” the statement said.

It listed a litany of offences Lai was said to have committed, including receiving bribes in cash or kind, as well as sex for favours.

He will also be expelled from the Communist Party.

He was put under investigation in April, news which sent China Huarong shares tumbling 11%.

China Huarong is the country’s biggest bad debt manager and Lai is one of the most high-profile figures to be probed by the NSC, a new super anti-graft agency set up in March.

It holds sweeping powers to investigate public servants, with few requirements for transparency.

The commission works alongside the Communist Party’s CCDI, which has punished more than one million officials since 2012, when Xi took office.

Critics say the anti-graft campaign has also served as a way for Xi to get rid of political enemies.

Former Interpol president Meng Hongwei, also a vice public security minister, was the latest to fall — he disappeared while on a trip back to China from France and authorities revealed last week that he faced a bribery investigation.

Several high-profile Chinese citizens have disappeared, including billionaire business magnates. Film star Fan Bingbing went missing for months until state media reported earlier this month that she was ordered to pay more than US$129 million in taxes and fines, and she posted a public apology.