China investigates more top PetroChina executives over corruption

China investigates more top PetroChina executives over corruption
PetroChina's LNG plants and terminals in China.

BEIJING/HONG KONG - A high-level government probe into corruption at China's leading oil and gas firm widened on Tuesday, with three additional senior officials at the state-run giant being investigated over alleged wrongdoing.

The announcement by the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which oversees China's state companies, followed a notice the day before on a probe into another top official at China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), parent of Hong Kong-listed PetroChina Co (0857.HK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

The three senior officials have been put under investigation for "severe breaches of discipline," SASAC said, employing the shorthand the Chinese government uses to describe graft.

The investigations, which come amid an anti-corruption campaign by Chinese President Xi Jinping, were announced shortly after the close of the trial of Bo Xilai, once a rising political star who is now awaiting a verdict on charges of corruption, bribery and abuse of power.

The Bo trial, with the details it yielded of alleged excess funded by bribes given by business executives seeking to curry favour with Bo, have shone a spotlight on China's struggle with corruption, giving Xi an incentive to show he is tackling it.

SASAC said CNPC group deputy general manager Li Hualin, vice-president of listed unit PetroChina Ran Xinquan, and PetroChina chief geologist Wang Daofu are all under investigation. It did not detail the accusations against them.

On Monday, the Ministry of Supervision said CNPC vice-president Wang Yongchun had been put under investigation for disciplinary breaches, without going into further detail.

A CNPC spokesman confirmed that Wang Yongchun had resigned from his post. PetroChina said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange that Li, Ran and Wang Daofu had also resigned. None of the four individuals was available for comment.

A PetroChina spokesman said the company "does not tolerate any official involved in corruption or other crimes," but said the investigation would not affect the company's operations.

Shares of PetroChina were suspended from trading earlier on Tuesday pending the announcement on the investigation.

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