China's state-owned Sinopec to shut hotels, ditch cars in graft crackdown

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese state-owned energy giant Sinopec Group will sell off most of its hotels by the end of 2017 and get rid of more than 4,000 company cars as part of efforts to root out corruption and waste, it said on Monday (Sept 14).

Since President Xi Jinping's appointment in 2013, the government has cracked down on official corruption and extravagance in China, where the flaunting of personal and often illicit wealth and wasteful public spending have led to widespread criticism of the party.

The big state-owned conglomerates have been a particular focus, and several high-ranking executives or former executives at Sinopec have been investigated or jailed. Sinopec Group is the parent of Sinopec Corp, Asia's largest oil refiner.

In a statement released by the Communist Party's graft-busting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Sinopec said that the latest inspection by anti-corruption teams had been very effective at rooting out problems.

"It has hit the nail on the head, grasping the essence and crux (of the issue), helping us to find the root of the disease," it said.

As part of company efforts to rein in spending, all the hotels it runs will be sold off by late 2017, apart from a"small number" that are competitive or are in exploration areas with no other hotels, it said.

State-owned firms in China tend to be very diversified and often own assets that have nothing to do with their core business.

The number of cars the company operates will also be slashed by 4,300, it added, a move in line with other government-run organisations and departments.

The probe found a series of other problems of waste, including a holiday two executives took to Taiwan in 2013 on the company dime, and four people who did not return to China immediately after a board meeting in gambling hub Macau.

Sinopec is not the only state-owned energy company to have been probed by the graft watchdog.

In a statement released late on Sunday, China National Offshore Oil Corp, better known as CNOOC, listed the steps it was taking to address the problems inspectors had found there, including promising not to use company money to buy high-end cigarettes and liquor.