Communist Party probes Jilin carmaker's missing billions

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 April, 2013, 5:44am

More than 100 senior managers at one of the mainland's leading carmakers, the First Automobile Works Group (FAW), have been questioned, and some have been detained, by Communist Party investigators looking into missing company assets, according to a report by the 21st Century Business Herald.

Citing anonymous sources, the report said that more than 10 billion yuan (HK$12.4 billion) worth of capital vanished from the Jilin -based company over an undisclosed period, and initial investigations found that the money had been embezzled.

Zhou Yongjiang, a deputy chief economist at FAW, and other managers have been placed under shuanggui, in which party members are detained and interrogated, the report said. Zhou was allegedly involved in irregular real estate deals. Calls to FAW's publicity department went unanswered yesterday.

The far-reaching case is still unfolding and may send shockwaves as one of the region's senior leaders, a deputy party secretary of Jilin province, was reportedly questioned by the party's top graft-busting agency.

Earlier reports said the official, Zhu Yanfeng, a 52-year-old former president of FAW, was under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in connection with the missing assets. Zhu worked at FAW for nearly 25 years prior to his promotion to the provincial government.

The Jilin Daily, the provincial party mouthpiece, reported that Zhu made an April 1 visit to a centre that helps young entrepreneurs start businesses, in an apparent attempt to end speculation he was under investigation.

The case of FAW's missing assets emerged in 2011 when the group was audited in preparation for a public listing.

In 2012, Jing Guosong, vice-president of FAW-Volkswagen, a joint venture between the companies, was probed for engaging in unauthorised transactions for personal gain between 2007 and 2010, when the sales of 170 new cars were not registered properly.