Chinese corruption watchdog raps financial regulators

BEIJING • China's main ruling Communist Party anti-graft watchdog has criticised four financial regulators after its latest inspection, saying they had problems ranging from using public funds for holidays to lack of corruption risk controls.

The four - the People's Bank of China (PBOC), State Administration of Foreign Exchange, China Banking Regulatory Commission and China Securities Regulatory Commission - all said they took the issue seriously and vowed to follow party rules on fighting corruption.

In separate statements released late on Thursday, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) listed a series of problems it had found at each of the regulators.

At the foreign exchange administration, it said some officials ignored discipline rules, that there were problems with promotions being "not standard enough" and weak law-enforcement oversight.

At the PBOC, the central bank, public funds were spent on gifts, while at the banking regulator, public funds were spent on holidays, the watchdog said.

For the stock markets regulator, there was only lip service paid by some to anti-graft rules and insufficient oversight over certain "sensitive" posts, though it did not say which.

Stock market regulatory chief Xiao Gang was quoted as saying they would strictly abide by President Xi Jinping's instructions on fighting corruption and make changes as suggested.

Central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan was quoted as saying his team agreed completely with the watchdog's findings and"sincerely accepted them".

Mr Xi has launched a sweeping crackdown on deep-rooted graft since taking over the party's leadership in late 2012 and the presidency in 2013.

Dozens of senior officials have been investigated or jailed.

Graft investigators have fanned out across the country looking for abuses, including in government departments and ministries in Beijing.

China's financial regulators have been under heavy pressure since stock markets collapsed in mid-June last year following a long bull run, though the statements made no mention of the markets.

Meanwhile, the CCDI said on Thursday it has formally begun an investigation into the former governor of China's populous south-western province of Sichuan.

The government said last month that the former governor, Mr Wei Hong, was suspected of corruption, but had given no details other than using the term "discipline violations", the common official euphemism for graft in China.

It added in a separate statement that it was investigating Mr Liu Zhigeng, vice-governor of China's wealthy southern province of Guangdong, for "severe violations" of party rules.

As part of the anti-corruption drive, Sichuan has emerged as a focus of Mr Xi's crackdown on deep-seated corruption as it was a power base for former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, who was party boss there from 1999 to 2002.

Zhou was jailed for life for graft last year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese corruption watchdog raps financial regulators'. Print Edition | Subscribe