One trail in the mystery of why Wang Xuebing was dismissed as president of one of China's biggest banks leads to the suicide of the man who managed the country's foreign-exchange reserves. Li Fuxiang, then 47, director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange Control (Safec), jumped to his death on May 10, 2000, from a room in a Beijing hospital where he was being treated. That is all that was officially reported about Li. According to Hong Kong media, he checked in to an elite military medical facility for senior officials two days earlier to be treated for depression or diabetes and may have been under investigation for economic crimes. One foreign banker said: 'Some people say Li took his own life to avoid an investigation, because he knew he was finished. He was a friend of Wang Xuebing. The two worked together at the Bank of China and both headed its New York branch. They were close in age.' Li graduated from the University of Workers, Farmers and Soldiers during the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, majoring in English. He worked for Bank of China in Singapore and headed its New York branch before becoming general manager of the bank's capital department, during the presidency of Mr Wang, who headed the bank from December 1993 until February 2000, when he was moved to the Construction Bank. In 1996, Li joined Safec as deputy director and took over as director in 1998. The banker said: 'Li and Wang worked closely together at the Bank of China. So there may be a connection between Li's suicide and Wang's dismissal.' Mr Wang was dismissed because of loans made by Bank of China's branch in New York and has been accused of 'negligence of duty' and of having direct responsibility for the loans. The Bank of China's branch in New York was the subject of a probe by the United States Treasury's comptroller of currency, the Asian Wall Street Journal first reported. The probe has been extended to Liu Mingkang, the present president of the bank, and Xiao Gang, a People's Bank of China deputy governor, who were assisting US authorities in their inquiries, the Financial Times reported. Some link Li's death to the continuing investigation of Zhu Xiaohua, the director of Safec when he joined, who was his superior for two years and then went on to China Everbright Group in Hong Kong until July 1999, when he was recalled to Beijing. Mr Wang also worked for Everbright, from April to December 1993, as group vice-general manager and vice-chairman of its bank. The mainland media yesterday continued its news blackout on Mr Wang's situation. 'This cannot be reported because Wang knew too many leaders. To publish the news would influence the ongoing struggle for power,' said one journalist. A second journalist disagreed. 'It is hard to obtain accurate information. The case is in the process of being investigated and there is no conclusion yet. So it is difficult to make a report.'