2019 a big year in anti-corruption fight
China’s sweeping campaign against corruption brought a long string of victories last year, as the list of senior officials taken down continued to expand, especially in the financial sector.
In 2019, 63 senior officials from central Party and State organs, State-owned enterprises, major financial institutions and universities, were placed under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission, the country’s top anti-graft watchdogs, compared with 15 the previous year.
Among the 63 officials, 15 were from the financial sector, including banking, insurance, trust, guarantee, investment and financing — virtually all aspects of the financial industry.
President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, called for more efforts in fighting corruption in the financial sector during a key meeting of the top watchdog in January last year.
Addressing the third plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Xi said: “We should step up efforts to combat corruption in the financial sector and resolutely investigate and punish all corruption when it is discovered.”
The fourth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will be held Monday to Wednesday.
Banking bigwigs in the 2019 list of “tigers” — a reference to senior officials — include Zhao Jingwen, former executive director of CITIC Group, and Hu Huaibang, ex-chairman of the China Development Bank. Both worked at the ministerial level.
Officials of financial regulators were also targeted. For example, Liu Jinming, a former member of the Party committee at the Inner Mongolia bureau of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, was put under investigation by the watchdog in November.
Some retired officials have also been investigated in the crackdown. Liu Jidong, former vice-president of PICC Investment Holding Co, was placed under investigation by the watchdog in June.
The officials were expelled from the Party and removed from public office. They typically used their positions in financial units for personal gain, the watchdog said.
Anti-corruption work in the financial sector is necessary for the healthy development of the industry, protection of the vital interests of the people and protection of national security, the top watchdog’s China Discipline Inspection newspaper said in a commentary in November.
Interests and resources are relatively concentrated in the financial sector, and financial corruption cases often affect the stability of financial markets and economic development, causing great harm to society, it said.
The anti-graft campaign stepped up last year. From January to November, disciplinary inspectors and supervisory organs across the country filed and investigated 555,000 cases, with 485,000 people receiving disciplinary measures within Party or government agencies. Around 19,000 cases were transferred to procuratorates for criminal investigation.
During the past year, 20 officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above were placed under investigation and 23 received Party disciplinary punishments.
From January to November last year, 1,841 fugitives suspected of economic crimes, including 816 Party members and civil servants, were brought back to China for trial, and 4.09 billion yuan ($591 million) of illegally obtained money was recovered, according to government records.