China Resources (Holdings)

China Resources chief Song Lin sacked as UBS probes banker’s alleged affair, finance ties

UBS won business from China Resources soon after she joined bank

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 April, 2014, 12:06am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 7:50pm

Song Lin, the top official of state-owned conglomerate China Resources who is under investigation for suspected corruption, has been sacked as chairman of the firm, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.

Citing an official with the Organisation Department of the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee, Xinhua said Song Lin was fired because he was suspected of "serious discipline and law violations" - party speak for corruption.

Song was also sacked from his position as the company’s party chief, Xinhua said. The Communist Party's top anti-corruption agency announced on Thursday night that it was investigating Song.

Meanwhile, the Swiss bank UBS has launched an internal investigation focused on the alleged relationship between one of its Hong Kong-based bankers and Song, sources told the South China Moring Post.

The bank on Wednesday started investigating Helen Yang Lijuan, a senior investment banker based at its Hong Kong office. The probe was initiated after UBS' Switzerland headquarters ordered the bank's top bosses in Asia to look into claims around Yang's affair with the China Resources chairman.

According to the allegations, first levelled by Xinhua journalist and whistle-blower Wang Wenzhi on Tuesday, Yang helped Song launder money he made from allegedly corrupt deals.

China Resources has removed Song's photo, his denial of the allegations, his past speeches and nearly every mention of him from the company website.

China Resources is one of UBS' major state-owned enterprise (SOE) clients.

Yang has handled all China Resources business since joining the bank in June 2012, according to sources and public records.

"If you have an affair with an SOE boss, it's not an issue for your employer. But if the person also happens to be your client and you keep this relationship a secret, then it may be a problem," one of the sources commented.

UBS declined to comment.

UBS started to get business from China Resources soon after Yang joined in 2012, public records show. Before that, all of China Resources' major deals went to Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley, including the US$874 million initial public offering of China Resources Cement in September 2009.

It remains unclear how exactly Yang helped UBS win at least two China Resources deals.

The sources said Yang apparently kept her personal relationship with Song so confidential that the revelation came as a shock to many of her colleagues.

"One thing is for sure," one source said. "Yang always took anything related to China Resources very seriously and she would always take care of those things personally rather than assign them to others."

Follow the SCMP reporters on Twitter: @george_chen and @rayzchan