Wang Xuebing, the former president of Bank of China dismissed for malpractices last month, paid for a new building for the bank with a single successful gold trade and made a sum equivalent to the bank's London branch from trading foreign exchange. These are two of the revelations in the latest issue of weekly magazine San Lian Shenghuo , the first publication in the mainland to give readers an explanation for the downfall of China's most famous international banker, who was bank president from December 1993 until February 2000. The magazine said that Wang was an accomplished trader with a lavish lifestyle of golf, French food and wine and karaoke. His biggest coup as a trader was to finance the construction of a new skyscraper for the bank in Beijing's Fuchengmen area, which was its headquarters before it moved last year to a new office designed by famous architect I.M. Pei. Since the central government would not pay, the bank had to find the money itself which Wang earned in a spectacular gold deal. He was also an accomplished foreign-exchange trader, making in one year the equivalent of the annual profit of the bank's London branch, including, in one play, selling the Australian dollar so heavily that it pushed the currency down. The magazine confirmed unofficial accounts that Wang had been moved from Bank of China to Construction Bank in February 2000, to facilitate an investigation by the United States Treasury's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) into malpractices at the bank's branches in the US. Wang felt under suspicion and was angry about being moved from a bank with branches all over the world to one with nearly all its operations at home, even though he was president. The salary in his new post might have also been lower. The magazine analysed the bank's New York office, which opened in November 1981, adding a branch in the city's Chinatown in September 1985 and in Los Angeles in October 1988. Wang was sent to New York in 1988 and managed the operation from 1990 for three years. It was run like the domestic branches, with lax management and loans to friends and associates and no proper credit controls. 'The officers sent from China did not know local laws and operated according to standards at home,' a former employee of the New York branch said. 'This was a dangerous combination - Chinese management methods and international standards of supervision.' The bank was also handicapped by its self-imposed scope of business - local Chinese individuals and companies and Chinese-invested companies - so that it was excluded from the mainstream business culture. It was in such a climate that loans were made to individuals and companies with no ability to repay, in one case US$34 million, which caused the OCC to impose a fine of US$10 million, with a matching fine paid to the People's Bank of China, which caused Wang's arrest on January 11. The timing, a few days before the news of the OCC fine, suggests the arrest was precipitated by the OCC move. The report did not address the issue of Wang's responsibility for widespread fraud and malpractices in domestic bank branches.