China to prosecute former chairman of luxury liquor maker Kweichow Moutai for graft

Yuan Renguo, former deputy party secretary and chairman of Kweichow Moutai, has been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and removed from all posts. PHOTO: MOUTAI CHINA/FACEBOOK

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China will prosecute the former deputy party secretary and chairman of luxury liquor maker Kweichow Moutai, the ruling Communist Party's graft buster said on Wednesday (May 22).

Yuan Renguo, a former official of the world's largest listed alcohol firm, with market capitalization of 1.12 trillion yuan (S$223.7 billion), has been expelled from the party and removed from all posts, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on its website.

Yuan "severely violated political discipline and political rules, and used dealership qualification of the Moutai liquor as tools of strings pulling and exchange of interests", it said in a statement.

He took exceptionally large bribes and ran illegal for-profit business, it added, among other accusations.

Since taking office more than five years ago, President Xi Jinping has waged war on graft at all levels of the ruling party, pledging that the fight will continue until corruption is impossible and unimaginable for officials.

Moutai, which sells its fiery Feitian 53 baijiu for close to US$250 (S$345) per bottle, is often served at official banquets and business dinners, as China's burgeoning middle-class builds an appetite for more expensive drinks.

The brand has close ties with Chinese politics and culture, drawing on its long history as the national liquor of choice and was once hailed as helping the Red Army survive the tortuous Long March of the 1930s.

In March, the firm posted its second consecutive double-digit annual profit growth, racking up 35.2 billion yuan in full-year net profit for 2018, up from 27.08 billion yuan a year earlier.

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