Zhou Yongkang

Sichuan-based CNPC-supplier executives disappear amid widening graft probe

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 3:27pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 4:24pm

Sichuan Star Cable, a Leshan, Sichuan province-based supplier of the oil and gas giant China National Petroleum Corporation, has said three of its executives have disappeared as party investigators are expanding their graft probes in the province.  

General Manager Shen Ludong and Chief Financial Officer Yang Ping have disappeared and neither the company nor their families have been able to contact them, company spokesman Feng Tao said in a telephone interview from the company’s headquarters in Leshan in Sichuan province.

“We have not been able to get in touch with them,” he said. “We don’t know where they are.” Feng said the two were last seen in their offices on Wednesday last week.

On Friday, the company held an extraordinary board meeting to relieve them from their positions, the company said in a press release. Trading in the company’s stocks on the Shanghai exchange was also suspended that day.

Shen and Yang's fate is starkly similar to the disappearance of the company’s chairman and founder, Li Guangyuan, who is also a delegate to the National People’s Congress. He was last seen by his family members in mid-July, said Feng.

“We assume their disappearance is related to their private lives and not to the company’s business activities,” he said.

Their vanishing follows a series of arrests and party investigations in Sichuan province after party investigators detained Chengdu Industry Investment Group Chairman Dai Xiaoming in August last year. It is widely believed that his detention triggered the downfall of Sichuan's Deputy Party Secretary Li Chuncheng in December and a series of further investigations.

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has been the other major target in recent graft probes. Four senior executives have been detained in relation to corruption investigations over the last month. CNPC’s former chairman Jiang Jiemin was also sacked from his current position as director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission for “suspected serious disciplinary violation”, Xinhua said on Tuesday.

CNPC was Sichuan Star Cable’s largest single customer last year, accounting for 40 per cent of the company’s sales, its annual report said.

Former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang is currently also facing a graft probe, sources close to the Chinese government told the South China Morning Post last week. Party investigators are focusing their attention on Zhou’s time as CNPC general manager and party secretary in the 1990s and later as Sichuan party secretary.