image

Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign

China’s Communist Party expels former insurance watchdog chief over corruption

Former top finance ministry graft-buster also pushed out of the party over ‘discipline violations’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 September, 2017, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 September, 2017, 9:59pm

China’s Communist Party has expelled the nation’s former top insurance regulator and the head of the finance ministry’s anti-graft committee after an anti-corruption watchdog said investigations found serious violations of party discipline.

In a online statement on Saturday, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said an investigation had determined that Xiang Junbo, former chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), had “committed serious violations of political discipline and rules” to serve personal political interests.

Chinese graft-buster ‘front runner’ to head insurance watchdog

The statement also said Xiang was suspected of bribery and accused him of “engaging in superstitious activities”, an allegation often levelled at discredited officials to further tarnish their names.

President Xi Jinping has overseen a far-reaching anti-corruption drive since coming to power in late 2012, punishing more than a million party members, jailing top military figures and retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang, the most senior official toppled for corruption since 1949.

China’s top leaders have also pledged this year to address financial risks and asset bubbles, ahead of a five-yearly party congress due to start on October 18.

Xiang would be handed over to legal authorities, the statement said, meaning he will be prosecuted.

Xiang, who also served as a member of the central bank’s monetary policy committee, was removed from his position in April for suspected “serious disciplinary violations”, a phrase that usually refers to graft.

China steps up scrutiny of insurers’ deals with affiliate companies

He is the most senior financial regulator to be targeted by the central government’s ongoing fight against graft.

As head of the insurance regulator, Xiang oversaw rapid growth of the insurance industry, along with liberalisation of investment rules that provided insurers greater latitude to invest more of their assets at home and overseas.

Xiang was previously a deputy central bank governor and vice-chief at the National Audit Office.

Reuters was not able to reach Xiang or a family or legal representative for comment and it was unclear if he had been allowed to retain a lawyer.

China likely to pick an outsider to replace dismissed insurance regulator Xiang Junbo

Mo Jiancheng, appointed the top graft-buster at the Ministry of Finance in December 2015, was also expelled from the party after an investigation found he had “seriously violated the spirit of political discipline”, was suspected of bribery and had accepted numerous invitations to banquets, the CCDI statement said.

Mo was also a member of the ministry’s party committee and previously served as deputy party secretary and vice-governor of Jiangxi province.

Reuters was unable to reach Mo or a family or legal representative for comment and it was unclear if he had been allowed to retain a lawyer.