China’s top anti-graft watchdog has begun a two-month inspection of the country’s banking and insurance regulator, as part of a broader campaign to weed out corrupt Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials in the financial sector.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) is deploying teams to 25 financial institutions, including the central bank, stock exchanges, banks and asset-management firms, with orders to focus on their CCP committees.
A statement issued late on Monday by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the first institution to come under scrutiny, said inspectors would look for violation of political discipline — a party euphemism for corruption.
“Finance is the core of the modern economy, and is tied to development and security,” Yang Guozhong, the CCDI official in charge of the inspection, was quoted as saying in the statement.
“Inspections are political supervision, and a powerful and comprehensive means of governing the party in a strict way,” Yang said.
“There must also be no systemic financial risks — that’s the bottom-line that we must resolutely defend,” he said.
Late last month, CCDI Secretary Zhao Leji (趙樂際) called for in-depth inspection to uncover political deviation at party organizations, as well as problems that affect the development of the financial sector.
On Monday, the CCDI said the former chairman and CCP head at Changan Bank (長安銀行), based in the northwestern province of Shaanxi, had been expelled from the party and public office due to corruption.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is scrutinizing the ties that state banks and other financial institutions have developed with big private companies, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people with knowledge of the plan.
China’s competition watchdog is planning to hire more people in its Beijing head office and create departments to better oversee deals and probes, keeping up the pressure after a yearlong crackdown on monopolies.
The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) is to boost staffing at its anti-monopoly bureau, which is to be split into three separate divisions focusing on antitrust investigations, market competition and mergers oversight, people with knowledge of the matter said.
It is planning to increase the number of antitrust officials from more than 40 to 100, before reaching 150 within five years, two of the people said.
The preliminary plans, which were communicated internally before China’s week-long national day holiday, are expected to be finalized by the end of this month.
Beijing has been increasing antitrust oversight over the sprawling private sector, especially in the digital realm following a decade of unfettered growth.
The moves signal the SAMR, which has extracted billions of US dollars in fines from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) and Meituan (美團) for market abuse, is moving into a new phase of enforcing a plethora of regulations that now cover every corner of the world’s largest Internet sector from food delivery to online shopping and social media.
SAMR Deputy Director Gan Lin (甘霖) is being considered to lead the administration, while Wu Zhenguo (吳振國), who currently heads the anti-monopoly division, would become responsible for the new investigation bureau, one of the people said.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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