China opens graft probe into former VP at bad-debt manager China Orient

BEIJING, June 9 (Reuters) - China’s top graft buster said on Tuesday that it had opened a probe into a former vice president of China Orient Asset Management Co, the latest in a series of investigations into top officials at state-run companies managing bad debt.

Hu Xiaogang, who became vice-president of China Great Wall Asset Management Co after leaving China Orient in 2018, is under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) for suspected “severe discipline and law violations”, a euphemism for graft.

Hu, 57, had worked at China Orient for nearly two decades, having previously been with state-owned Bank of China , according to the CCDI statement.

China Oriental said in a statement on Tuesday on its website that the company “strongly supported” the decision to probe Hu, noting it was in line with a Communist Party’s anti-corruption resolution.

Great Wall issued a similar statement on its website. Reuters was unable to reach Hu immediately for comment.

In January, China executed Lai Xiaomin, former chairman of the embattled China Huarong Asset Management Co after a court found him guilty of taking bribes worth 1.79 billion yuan ($280 million).

Huarong, which has been struggling with a restructuring plan after Lai’s downfall, spooked investors in China’s dollar-bond market in April when it delayed its results, prompting credit rating downgrades.

Aside from intensifying their anti-corruption campaign, regulators have been stepping up efforts to clean up the financial risks accumulated over the years by China’s four big bad debt managers - China Cinda Asset Management Co, Huarong, Great Wall and China Orient.

On Tuesday, the banking watchdog named Liang Qiang, an asset management veteran, to the senior post of deputy communist party boss at Huarong. ($1 = 6.3928 yuan) (Reporting by Cheng Leng, Zhang Yan and Ryan Woo; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)