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Zhang Hongli, a former senior executive at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), is being probed by China’s top anti-corruption watchdog, in a sign of a continuing crackdown in the country’s financial sector.
In a brief statement on Saturday, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said Zhang was “suspected of seriously violating rules and laws,” a phrase that is commonly used to refer to corruption. It did not specify details.
State-owned ICBC is one of China’s “Big Four” banks and the world’s largest lender by assets, according to S&P Global.
From 2010 to 2018, Zhang served as senior executive vice president of the lender, which tapped him for his international experience and knowledge of global financial markets, according to company statements. Prior to joining ICBC, Zhang worked at Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, where he held senior management roles.
Zhang was a former member of ICBC’s Communist Party committee, according to state-run news agency Xinhua. He left ICBC in 2018 after resigning for family reasons, according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing at the time.
Zhang is the latest former high-flying executive from China’s banking sector to come under scrutiny by the CCDI. The clampdown has implicated Bao Fan, a star investment banker and tech dealmaker, who went missing in February. In May, Chinese state media reported that Bao had been in the custody of the anti-graft agency since his disappearance.
So far this year, the commission has already investigated more than a dozen senior executives at the country’s most important financial institutions, according to a previous CNN analysis of statements posted on the CCDI’s website.
They include three top executives at the highest ranks of China’s financial world, who have either been probed or charged, according to the commission.
Analysts have told CNN that the crackdown represents an expansion of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s signature anti-corruption campaign, and a bid to further solidify his power.
In April, Li Xiaopeng, the former chairman of China Everbright Group — one of the country’s oldest and largest state-owned financial conglomerates — was suspected of “serious violations of law and discipline” and subject to investigation, the commission said.
In October, Li was expelled from the Communist Party and arrested for allegedly taking bribes, according to Xinhua.
In March, the commission opened a similar probe into Liu Liange, former chairman of state-owned Bank of China, the country’s fourth largest lender. Liu had resigned earlier in March citing “work adjustments,” according to a filing by the bank.
Liu was arrested last month on suspicion of accepting bribes and illegally granting loans, according to Xinhua.
And in January, Wang Bin, who led state-owned giant China Life Insurance from 2018 to early 2022, was charged by national prosecutors with taking bribes and hiding overseas savings. He was first probed by the CCDI in January 2022.
In September, Wang was sentenced to life in prison after a court found him guilty of taking tens of millions of dollars worth of bribes and concealing deposits to overseas bank accounts.
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