State grid official faces probe amid massive audit

Zhu Changlin the latest in the conglomerate to be investigated, but details remain murky

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 4:45am

A senior executive of the State Grid Corporation is being investigated by the authorities amid a massive central audit of the conglomerate, the world's largest government-run power utility.

Zhu Changlin, head of the North China Grid Company, has been taken away for questioning, respected business magazine Caixin said, citing unnamed officials at the firm.

North China Grid oversees the power utilities of Beijing and Tianjin, as well as the key provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong.

The report did not give details of the investigation or who is carrying it out. It also remains unclear if the probe is related to the audit.

The National Audit Office is to carry out extensive checks on the accounts of the chairman of the State Grid Corporation, Liu Zhenya, and the corporation was told to spare 1,000 offices for the auditing team.

Zhu, as head of one of the regional grid companies, serves as one of Liu's aides.

A source at the audit office told the South China Morning Post last week that it would be one of the organisation's biggest investigations into a state-owned enterprise. The NAO and other authorities had previously received letters alleging financial problems at State Grid and accusing the power company's management of potential corruption, he added.

Calls to North China Grid and its parent company's press offices went unanswered yesterday.

Zhu started his career at State Grid in Henan province. He worked at State Grid subsidiaries Sichuan Electric Power Company from 2002 to 2009 and thereafter the Beijing Electric Power Company before being promoted to the North China post last year.

Water-resource-rich Sichuan has been a major target of the latest round of the anti-corruption crackdown, with a number of officials probed, including former vice-governor Guo Yongxiang, who was in charge of the province's water resources development, such as hydropower construction, from 2006-08.

A Guangdong energy official explained to the Post: "There is no doubt that a head of a local electric power company has at least a working relationship with that province's vice-governor in charge of energy."

But so far, it is not clear which of Zhu's tenures is the target of this investigation.

State media including the People's Daily said five audit teams were sent to State Grid, without giving further details.