People's Bank of China, the mainland's central bank, has confirmed that Bank of China will pay between US$10 million and US$20 million to the United States for wrongdoing at its New York branch. The payment was fixed after negotiations between the commercial bank and the regulatory bodies of the two countries, a People's Bank of China spokesman said. The penalty is believed to be one of the largest US civil penalties imposed on a bank in recent years. The spokesman gave no details on the wrongdoing but The Wall Street Journal reported that the scope of the US investigation included the period when former China Construction Bank president Wang Xuebing was chief of the New York branch from 1988 to 1993. Mr Wang was sacked by Beijing from China Construction Bank last week because of negligence and suspicious loans he approved during his time at Bank of China. He was the bank's president from 1993 to February 2000. It has been reported that among the suspect transactions approved by Mr Wang - and now under investigation - were loans in excess of US$20 million made during his tenure in New York. A Bank of China spokesman in Beijing was not available for comment yesterday. The People's Bank spokesman declined to reveal if a public announcement would be made. 'You better wait . . .' he said. The Wall Street Journal said the fact the penalty was one of the largest for banks in US records indicated serious wrongdoing. In 1996, the US Government imposed a US$340 million penalty on Japan's Daiwa Bank in the US for covering up trading losses from bank supervisors and law-enforcement authorities, according to the newspaper. The spokesman said the bank hoped to co-operate with US regulators to govern the mainland banks. He did not elaborate. Analysts in Beijing said the Bank of China investigation and the sacking of Mr Wang indicated that China was in a hurry to shake up its banking industry. China's banking reforms only started a few years ago and the industry still failed to meet international practices, analysts said.