The Bank of China yesterday confirmed the head of its Shanghai branch had been sacked for loans granted under his reign to a company controlled by one of the city's property tycoons. A bank spokesman said Zhou Lu had been removed as the general manager of the Bank of China's Shanghai branch following an internal audit review. 'The head office discovered that certain credit extensions made to the Wan Tai Group, granted during Zhou's tenure, involved irregularities,' the spokesman said. 'Zhou should be held directly responsible for these problematic lendings.' Mr Zhou has been replaced by Huang Zhiwei, the head of the bank's Nanjing branch. The spokesman said Mr Zhou was the only official of the Shanghai branch to be removed and was helping the investigations into the loans. Mr Zhou has worked at the bank since 1998. It is not sure when the problem loans were made. The spokesman declined to reveal the Wan Tai irregularities. Nor would he say how much the bank had lent to Wan Tai, controlled by Shanghai property tycoon Qian Yongwei. Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng had earlier targeted Wan Tai for official investigation, alongside disgraced property tycoon Chau Ching-ngai. Qian, reportedly under house arrest, was little known until the property scandals in the city started to unfold last month, implicating developers, banks and municipal officials. Meanwhile, officials at the Bank of China would not comment on a report in yesterday's South China Morning Post which quoted sources as saying the bank's former Hong Kong chief executive, Liu Jinbao, had been cleared of wrongdoing in approving a $2.1 billion credit line to Chau.