July 31, 2019 / 8:07 AM / 6 months ago

Ex-chairman of China Development Bank under probe by graft-buster

BEIJING (Reuters) - A former chairman of the China Development Bank, Hu Huaibang, is being investigated for suspected serious violations of discipline, the country’s graft-busting agency said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: China Development Bank Chairman Hu Huaibang attends the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) gave no details of which regulations or laws may have been breached, and phone calls to the bank’s press office were not answered.

Hu had been with the policy bank since 2013 and was also the top official of the ruling Communist Party at the bank. He stepped down last September.

The following month, his name emerged during the high-profile graft trial of a party official, Wang Sanyun, who had been the party chief of Gansu province from 2011 to 2017.

In that case, prosecutors said that Hu in his previous role as chairman of Bank of Communications (601328.SS)(3328.HK) had channeled bribes to Wang on behalf of Ye Jianming, the former chairman of the once high-flying conglomerate CEFC China Energy, China’s official CCTV reported in October.

Wang was also accused in that case of helping CEFC subsidiary CEFC Hainan to obtain $4.8 billion in financing from CDB when Hu served as the policy bank’s chairman.

Bank of Communications could not immediately be reached for comment.

China Development Bank is the largest of China’s policy banks, which disburse funds to support the government’s economic strategies. CDB had total assets of 16.18 trillion yuan ($2.35 trillion) at the end of 2018, according to its annual report.

Once fast-growing, CEFC defaulted on bonds last year and its former chairman Ye was put under investigation by authorities. It has conducted several sales of overseas assets that it had bought in recent years using borrowed funds.

Since taking office in 2012, President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping anti-corruption drive that has ensnared numerous top officials.

In another case, the graft-buster announced in April 2018 that Lai Xiaomin, who once oversaw more than $280 billion in assets as head of Huarong Asset Management Co, was under investigation.

In February, the CCDI said that another former CDB executive, Guo Lin, had been expelled from China’s ruling Communist Party after an investigation found him guilty of “disciplinary issues”.

Reporting by Tony Munroe, Cheng Leng, Engen Tham and Min Zhang; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Michael Perry & Kim Coghill

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