Zhou Yongkang

Oil company executive latest to be investigated for graft

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 2:40pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 8:42am

Wang Yongchun, a deputy general manager of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), is being investigated for "gross violation of party discipline", Xinhua reported yesterday citing the Central Discipline Inspection Commission, the Communist Party's top graft-busting body.

The investigation targeting Wang, 53, who is also the general manager of Daqing Oilfield Company, is the latest of a slew of scandals to dog CNPC, the country's largest oil and gas company.

The brief Xinhua report gave no details of the allegations against Wang. CNPC has yet to comment on the investigation of him for violating party discipline, usually a euphemism for corruption, but he was still ranked the number three deputy general manager on the firm's website.

Wang spent nearly three decades in CNPC subsidiaries in the northeast before he was made one of the company's deputy general managers in April 2011. In November 2012 he was elected an alternate member of the party's Central Committee.

CNPC was once a power base for Zhou Yongkang , a former member of the Standing Committee of the party's Politburo. The 71-year old Zhou, a party hardliner, rose through the ranks of the petroleum industry before becoming party secretary and general manager of CNPC in 1996. He retired last year.

Several of Zhou's subordinates and former aides have been implicated in corruption or placed under Communist Party disciplinary investigation in Sichuan , another of Zhou's power bases.

This has led to speculation that Zhou could become a target for the anti-corruption drive launched under the leadership of President Xi Jinping .

Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party secretary in Sichuan, became the first senior official targeted in the anti-graft drive when the 56-year-old was placed under investigation for breaching party discipline in December 2012.

Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor and chairman of the Sichuan Federation of Literary and Art circles, a non-governmental organisation, was taken into custody months later.

In one of the more recent scandals hurting CNPC, Ling Shengjun, former general manager of the company's Dalian branch, was sacked over three major fires at the branch since July 2010.

Wang became the latest senior official in the mainland's state-owned corporate sector to be investigated. Earlier this month, Xu Long was removed as general manager of China Mobile's Guangdong branch after being taken away by disciplinary officials for alleged violations of discipline.

Xu is among about a dozen top executives at the telecoms giant investigated since former deputy chairman Zhang Chunjiang was sacked in December 2009 for corruption.