China probes former Bank of China chairman Liu Liange

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Chinese authorities opened a probe into former Bank of China Ltd. Chairman Liu Liange, the most senior banker to become implicated in a broad crackdown on corruption in the financial sector that was unleashed in late 2021.

Liu is suspected of “serious violations of discipline and law,” the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the State Supervision Commission said in a one-sentence statement.

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Liu is among the highest-ranking financial executives to be targeted in President Xi Jinping’s clampdown on the financial sector. Wang Bin, former chairman of China Life Insurance Co., was ensnared last year and prosecuted in January for alleged bribery and concealing offshore deposits.

Xi launched a broad anti-corruption probe in late 2021 targeting the nation’s $60 trillion financial sector, which has brought down dozens of officials. The probe also implicated the investment banking community, ensnaring bankers from brokerages including Everbright Securities Co. and Guotai Junan Securities Co.

China removed Liu from the lender’s party chief role last month in an abrupt move without further explanation, along with a similar decision on Luo Xi at the People’s Insurance Co. Group of China. Those moves coincided with news about the disappearance of high-profile banker Bao Fan, which sent shock-waves through the financial industry.

The anti-graft watchdog earlier this week announced it will inspect dozens of state-owned companies from China Investment Corp. to PetroChina Co. as well as take a “look back” at five financial companies that had been previously targeted in the round of checks that began in 2021.

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