Wed, Dec 18, 2013 - Page 15 News List

China questions two more PetroChina parent officials in graft probe: sources

Reuters, HONG KONG and BEIJING

The Chinese government has questioned two more executives from China National Petroleum Co (CNPC, 中國石油天然氣) as part of a wider graft investigation into the state energy giant, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

CNPC and its listed unit PetroChina are at the center of one of the biggest corruption investigations into the Chinese state sector in years.

CNPC chief accountant Wen Qingshan (溫青山) and Wang Lihua (王立華), head of PetroChina’s oil trading vehicle Chinaoil (中聯油), were taken away by authorities last week, said the people, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Wang is also CNPC’s deputy chief economist.

It was not immediately clear whether the two officials were the target of the investigation or were assisting in the broader probe.

Two officials at Chinaoil — Zheng Jun, head of crude oil trading, and a company lawyer who only gave his surname as Chen — said by telephone that the report on Wang was “totally incorrect.”

“Such a thing that you reported has never happened to president Wang,” Zheng said. “She is still handling daily management work.”

“Several officials were taken away by the authorities. One is quite senior. He is CNPC’s chief accountant Wen Qingshan. The other officials included ... Wang Lihua,” one of the two sources said.

Beijing stunned the Chinese energy industry in August and September with announcements that five former top executives at PetroChina and CNPC were being investigated for “serious discipline violations” — shorthand generally used to describe graft.

They included Jiang Jiemin (蔣潔敏), former chairman of both entities.

Authorities have given no further details on what these officials may have done wrong, but the investigations suggest Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) wants to tackle graft in an industry that ranks as one of the most powerful corners of the state-owned corporate sector.

CNPC chief accountant Wen, 54, was also appointed chairman of listed Kunlun Energy (昆侖能源) in August, replacing Li Hualin (李華林), who the company said was being investigated by authorities.

Kunlun Energy shares were suspended early yesterday.

Wang, one of the few top female executives at the state giant, has been chief of Chinaoil since 1998.

The company has expanded rapidly over the years to become an influential global player in oil markets.

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