China Resources (Holdings)

China Resources chairman Song Lin sacked in corruption scandal

Journalists' campaign ends in once HK-based Song Lin's dismissal for 'serious violations of discipline' after claims of affair with banker

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 April, 2014, 5:24am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 6:19pm

Song Lin, the scandal-hit chairman of state-owned China Resources, was yesterday sacked for "suspected serious violations of discipline and law violations".

It made him one of the most senior state enterprise chiefs formerly based in Hong Kong to be toppled for corruption.

The dismissal was prompted by an online exposé four days earlier of an alleged extramarital affair involving Song. It proved the last straw in a year-long campaign by two mainland journalists to pressure Beijing into taking action against Song.

Xinhua, citing the party's organisation department, said Song, 51, was dismissed from his post as chairman and party boss of China Resources Holdings, the parent group of five Hong Kong-listed companies, including three Hang Seng Index constituent stocks. He was replaced by general manager Qiao Shibo.

An online posting on Tuesday by Wang Wenzhi, a journalist at a newspaper under Xinhua, claimed Song had an affair with Helen Yang Lijuan, a senior investment banker at the Hong Kong office of UBS, who allegedly helped him to launder money.

Song attempted to fight back with an online rebuttal. But on Thursday night, the central government's top anti-corruption agency said it was investigating.

Song's downfall was expected ... then it happened that his affair was exposed
Li Jianjun, journalist

Last year, journalist Li Jianjun accused Song of misconduct and corruption in coal mine acquisitions in Shanxi .

Wang made similar allegations last July and state media said later that the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's anti-graft watchdog, would be investigating the complaint. Li told the Post yesterday that the watchdog started its inquiry in November.

He said: "The downfall of Song was expected, but then it happened that Wang Wenzhi exposed his affair and the graft watchdog used it as an occasion to formally announce the probe." Li has lived in Hong Kong since arriving to report Song's case to the Independent Commission Against Corruption in August.

He wrote in his blog that other senior officials could be implicated in Song's case.

China Resources has said it will fully co-operate with the investigation.

Song, who spent 30 years at China Resources, is one of the most senior executives of a state-owned enterprise with service in Hong Kong to have been brought down by corruption.

He joins, among others, Wang Xuebing, a former president of China Construction Bank, and Liu Jinbao, a former CEO of Bank of China (Hong Kong).

Song is also the second vice-ministerial-level official to have been placed under investigation in the past year after being openly accused of crimes by journalists in their personal capacity.

Liu Tienan, the former deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission, was removed from his post in August last year.