A deputy editor of a Communist Party-affiliated website has been suspended and put under investigation over alleged threats to blackmail companies, according to mainland media reports. Xu Hui, a deputy editor at People.cn a website owned by party mouthpiece People's Daily , approached various companies and threatened to run negative stories about their products if they did not take out advertising on the site, online portal NetEase reported late on Wednesday. People's Daily notified some cadres about the case last Friday, the report said before it was pulled from the website, other news portals and social media sites yesterday morning. Other senior officials at the website were also reportedly implicated in Xu's case. People.cn declined to comment to the South China Morning Post . But one source said Xu was taken away on May 20 over a case related to a major oil company. "His name was mentioned when someone from the company was investigated [by discipline inspectors]. Several companies had previously complained about him so they decided to investigate him," the source said. Xu graduated from Beijing's Renmin University and was director of People.cn's business department and assistant to the website's director before becoming its deputy editor in 2011. He was in charge of the website's external relations and frequently gave speeches at public events. His last public appearance was in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, on May 9. People.cn was the first state-owned media firm to go public when it listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2012. The case against Xu comes as mainland authorities continue their year-long crackdown against corruption in media organisations. Shen Hao, former president of the group that owns the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper, Moneyweek magazine and the 21cbh.com financial news portal, was arrested with about 25 colleagues in September. They were accused of running "a massive extortion racket", in which reporters would allegedly blackmail companies into signing lucrative advertising deals in return for dropping negative coverage. Last month, the national media regulator ordered the Herald 's popular website to shut down and revoked the publishing permit for Moneyweek . But in a similar case last year, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's graft watchdog, ordered the Shanghai branch of Xinhua News Agency to return 3.5 million yuan (HK$4.43 million) the Bank of Communications had paid for stories and to prevent negative reports. No one was arrested. The former party chief and chief editor of Xinjiang Daily , Zhao Xinwei, was also under investigation for disciplinary violations, the local disciplinary watchdog announced yesterday.