China's anti-graft watchdog censures 137 people at biggest bank ICBC

A customer leaving an ICBC branch in China's southern city of Shenzhen on March 25, 2010.
A customer leaving an ICBC branch in China's southern city of Shenzhen on March 25, 2010.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's anti-graft watchdog said on Tuesday (Dec 8) that it had censured 137 bankers at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country's largest lender, the latest move in a campaign against corruption in the financial sector.

The announcement comes just weeks after anti-graft agents probed two of China's largest brokerages and censured four executives at a leading insurer.

The widening campaign has unnerved a financial industry recovering from a summer of plummeting stock prices, with fear of becoming entangled in investigations spreading among foreign investors.

On Tuesday, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), in a statement on its official website, said an investigation uncovered 25 instances of violations of Chinese Communist Party discipline at ICBC involving 47 people.

The CCDI said offences included organising prohibited internal banquets and accepting holidays from clients, and that it gave offenders warnings with different degrees of severity.

The watchdog said there were 18 other types of disciplinary cases involving 90 employees, some of whom received warnings while others were fired. It did not elaborate on the offences.

ICBC was not available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

China should "standardise the allocation of financial resources, and should break the 'chain of interest' from budget management to prevent and control corruption", Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei said in a separate commentary posted on the CCDI website.