Jiang Jiemin, a former PetroChina chairman who oversees the country’s biggest state-owned enterprises, was being investigated by the Communist Party anti-corruption watchdog, the official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.
Jiang, a director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, was being probed for “serious disciplinary violations”, Xinhua said, citing the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Jiang is the highest-profile official investigated since President Xi Jinping took over the ruling party in November last year, vowing to crack down on graft which he said threatened its six-decade hold on power.
Focusing on the oil industry and the state-owned companies Jiang oversaw might help Xi and Premier Li Keqiang push through economic policies at a November conclave, said Willy Wo-Lap Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Lam said: “Because there is so much money around, it is not surprising that the oil industry is perhaps fertile ground for corruption. Xi and Li will subject these huge conglomerates to more intense scrutiny – this is a way to impose some sort of discipline.”
Zhou Yongkang, a former China National Petroleum Corporation general manager in the 1990s who until last year oversaw the country’s internal security forces, was also being investigated, the South China Morning Post said at the weekend, citing unidentified sources.
Jiang and Zhou’s career paths crossed in the oil industry, where they worked for more than three decades.
Other officials being investigated by the discipline commission include Liu Tienan, the vice-chairman of the country’s planning agency, who was expelled from the party in August last year after being fired in May after a probe began. Li Chuncheng, a deputy party secretary of Sichuan province, was put under investigation in December, Xinhua reported at the time. Party leaders agreed to investigate Zhou because of rising anger in the party at the scale of corruption and the vast fortune amassed by his family, the South China Morning Post said.
Jiang is not the first top oil executive to face punishment. In July 2009 Chen Tongkai, the former chairman of Sinopec, was given a suspended death sentence after he was convicted of taking 196 million yuan (about R329m) in bribes. – Bloomberg