China investigates former chairman of Wuhan Iron and Steel for 'disciplinary violations'

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's anti-corruption agency has said it has opened an investigation into the former chairman of major Chinese steelmaker Wuhan Iron and Steel.

Mr Deng Qilin, chairman of the company until June 2015, is alleged to have committed serious violations of discipline, the ruling Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said on its website late on Saturday. "Disciplinary violations" is the shorthand for graft commonly used by Beijing's rulers.

There was no immediate comment from Wuhan Iron and Steel or from Deng, or any indication that he had legal representation.

Mr Deng was also secretary-general of the China Iron and Steel Association, an industry body, since 2009, according to the CCDI.

Officials from other companies in the steel sector, including Baosteel Group, Guangxi Liuzhou Iron & Steel and the smaller Jiuquan Steel, have also been investigated for disciplinary violations.

Wuhan Iron and Steel's deputy general manager Sun Wendong was detained by the authorities in April due to possible involvement in bribery, the company has said.

Wuhan Iron and Steel is China's fourth-largest producer and has been among the firms pushing for greater government support for overseas expansion amid plunging steel prices and huge overcapacity.

China has launched a series of corruption investigations into senior political officials, military figures and executives at state-owned enterprises as part of a wide-ranging campaign by President Xi Jinping to tackle graft.

Mr Xi has said corruption is a threat to the Communist Party's very survival and has vowed to go after powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".