Bank of Tianjin hit by $161m fraud in 3rd such China case

SHANGHAI • China's Bank of Tianjin said it has been defrauded of 768 million yuan (S$161 million), the third such crime against banks in the country this year.

A "risk incident" at a Shanghai branch was related to its notes business, the bank said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Notes, also known as bills of exchange, are securities issued by financial institutions, often as short-term financing tools, and payable to the bearer.

Financial magazine Caixin said the notes had been sold to the bank as part of a repurchase agreement.

The bank "paid the money when buying the notes, but the notes went missing when the time came to resell", Caixin quoted people familiar with the matter as saying, leaving the bank unable to recoup its funds.

A number of bank employees who handled the bills had turned themselves in to police, it added.

The bank, which listed in Hong Kong in late March, said in its statement on Friday that the incident happened "recently".

It is the third such case in China to come to light this year, and takes the total involved to 5.66 billion yuan.

The Agricultural Bank of China, one of China's biggest banks, admitted in January that two of its employees stole notes worth 3.9 billion yuan to invest in China's stock market, which imploded in mid-2015.

In January, mid-sized Chinese lender Citic Bank reported a bill-related risk incident in which it had been defrauded of up to 969 million yuan.

Separately, the new president of Chinese solar giant Wuxi Suntech Power is "assisting an inquiry" at Customs' request, its parent said yesterday after reports that he had gone missing.

Mr Tang Jun was the only person from the company helping in the investigation and the issue being probed remained unknown, a spokesman for Wuxi Suntech's parent Shunfeng International Clean Energy said yesterday, adding that the firm's operations were "all normal".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Bank of Tianjin hit by $161m fraud in 3rd such China case'. Print Edition | Subscribe