At least two senior bank executives in China have been arrested in recent days according to official reports from the country. The arrests seem to be part of a new phase in the government’s anti-corruption purge, targeting the highest levels of China’s financial institutions.
On Monday, the Shanghai-listed Bank of Beijing said its director Lu Haijun is under investigation by authorities for alleged “serious disciplinary violations,” a term used to describe corruption. He is also an ex-chairman of one of the bank’s major shareholder, Beijing Energy Investment Holding, and held top positions at other energy companies.
Two days before the arrest of Lu was made public, Mao Xiaofeng, president of China’s largest privately owned bank, Hong Kong-listed Minsheng Bank, had resigned after being taken away for questioning by interrogators. The investigation of Mao is reportedly linked to that of a close assistant of the ex-president of China Hu Jintao.
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President Xi Jinping‘s crackdown on corruption has been in full swing for about two years now. Ever since taking power in late 2012 Xi has identified corruption as a strategic threat to the Communist Party’s rule in China. Fearing that ordinary citizens will object to the country’s meteoric economic rise if only a corrupt elite enjoys its fruits, Xi directed the government to pursue all abusers of the public’s funds.
Helping to solidify his image as an efficient technocrat, Xi’s anti-corruption drive has indeed targeted not just low but actually high level officials after he vowed to go after both “tigers and flies.”
If at first some voices in the Western press joked that the only likely effect of the crackdown will be the empty gambling tables in Macau as corrupt officials will refrain from flaunting their ill-gotten wealth, today that’s clearly not the case. Army generals, state-owned oil executives and top communist politicians, such as the once all-powerful Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, have been among the hundreds swept up by the purge and now senior bankers are evidently not immune either.