A Guangzhou journalist accused a ministry-level official online yesterday of wrongdoing that's believed to have resulted in a loss of "tens of millions of yuan in state-owned assets".
Liu Hu, an investigative journalist with the New Express newspaper, said on his microblog that Ma Zhengqi, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), had waived further investigation into the suspicious privatisation of two state-owned companies that were merged when he was party secretary of Wanzhou district in Chongqing.
This marks the fourth high-profile exposure in recent months by journalists using their real names on social media. Previously, a deputy editor with Caijing magazine, Luo Changping , accused Liu Tienan, a former deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, of corruption, resulting in him being sacked and investigated.
"I am pained to see so much worth of state assets embezzled by civil servants," Liu Hu told the Post in an online interview yesterday before his related posts were deleted by censors.
He said the malpractice started in 2002 when two state-owned firms were merged into a private shareholding company called the Wanzhou Rufeng Dairy Industry Group. He alleges several local civil servants purchased the state assets for about 1.7 million yuan (HK$2.15 million), far less than the 27.7 million yuan that the assets were valued at.
In a government document posted online by Liu, Ma ordered relevant parties to cease further investigation in 2004, saying: "What is done cannot be undone. Let's focus now on the later development".
Ma, 54, started as a rural cadre in his hometown, Yongchuan district, Chongqing. After being named deputy general secretary of Chongqing in 1997, he became a standing member of Chongqing's party commission and party secretary of Wanzhou district. He became Chongqing's executive deputy mayor in 2010 and promoted to deputy director of the SAIC in April this year.
"Through online posts, I hope to get the attention of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection," Liu said.
Wu Guanghuai , a deputy director of the Wanzhou commerce bureau, said: "This case has been ongoing for more than 10 years. There are always petitioners complaining about this, and relevant government organisations in Wanzhou conducted an investigation into it at the end of last year."
Xiang Jisong , from the dairy group, dismissed Liu's accusations and confirmed official investigations. He said the firm was on the brink of bankruptcy, losing over 2 million yuan a year.
A spokeswoman for the SAIC declined to comment.