PetroChina supplier Wison says records seized, can't contact chairman

A security guard patrols outside Wison Engineering Services Co Ltd in Shanghai on Sept 3, 2013. Wison, a supplier to PetroChina , said Chinese authorities had taken company records and temporarily frozen some its bank accounts amid a widening probe i
A security guard patrols outside Wison Engineering Services Co Ltd in Shanghai on Sept 3, 2013. Wison, a supplier to PetroChina , said Chinese authorities had taken company records and temporarily frozen some its bank accounts amid a widening probe into the giant oil producer and its parent, China National Petroleum Corp. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Wison Engineering Services Co Ltd, a supplier to PetroChina , said Chinese authorities had taken company records and temporarily frozen some its bank accounts amid a widening probe into the giant oil producer and its parent, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC).

Wison also said it was no longer able to contact its chairman and founder, Hua Bangsong, who the company has said was assisting authorities in an investigation in China.

In a statement, Wison added that Zhao Hongbin, manager of the finance department of the company's unit Wison Engineering Limited, was also assisting in the investigation.

Wison said it was not aware of the nature of the probe. In a separate filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, Wison said executive director and chief financial officer, Chen Wenfeng, had resigned to pursue other business opportunities.

"As part of their investigations, the regulatory authorities made enquires about certain projects of the group, taken books and records and frozen certain bank accounts of the group,"Wison said in the statement.

"The company was not told the reason for freezing our bank accounts. After the company's communication with the regulatory authorities, some of the frozen bank accounts have been released," Wison said in the statement.

Wison said last week it would consider appointing an acting chairman.

Shares in Shanghai-based Wison - which has derived most of its revenue from PetroChina in recent years - have been suspended in Hong Kong since early September, when the company first said Hua was helping authorities.

They had fallen 30 percent after the Chinese government announced the investigation into several former top executives at PetroChina and CNPC in late August.

According to Wison's filings with the Hong Kong stock exchange, Hua founded the company in 1997 and built it into China's largest private petrochemical contractor thanks largely to revenue from PetroChina, one of the world's most valuable energy firms with a market capitalisation of about US$240 billion (S$303 billion).