China to prosecute former oil boss for graft

Previous second-in-command of China's national oil company PetroChina is latest target of anti-corruption crackdown

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Former PetroChina Vice Chairman Liao Yongyuan has been expelled from China’s Communist Party and will be prosecuted for crimes including bribery, the party said on Monday. This will make Yongyuan the latest official to be caught up in a sweeping corruption crackdown.

Liao stepped down from his posts as vice chairman and non-executive director in March. He was the most senior of two vice chairmen at PetroChina, China's top oil and gas producer, making him the company's second-highest ranking official.

The party's graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said that Liao abused his position to help with job promotions, took "enormous" bribes and was an adulterer.

"Liao Yongyuan was a senior party official, and seriously violated the party's political rules and the organisation's discipline," it said in a short statement.

Liao and the evidence of his crimes will be handed over to the legal authorities for prosecution, it added.

The Communist Party always conducts its own investigations before the courts are involved. As the party controls the courts, they generally do not challenge the party's accusations.

Calls to PetroChina's spokesman went unanswered.

The corruption watchdog had previously said Liao was under investigation for "serious disciplinary violations" stemming from his role as a general manager of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the parent company of PetroChina.

Liao, a 30-year veteran at CNPC, was appointed vice chairman of PetroChina in May 2014, just months after China announced that several top executives from the two companies were under investigation. That included Jiang Jiemin, former chairman of both entities.

President Xi Jinping has spent the past three years waging war on corruption, saying it threatens the party's very survival. Scores of senior officials in the party, the government, the military and state-owned enterprises have been brought down by the campaign.

Some were protégées of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, who was jailed for life last week after being found guilty of crimes ranging from taking bribes to leaking state secrets.

Zhou rose through the ranks at CNPC and from 1996-1998 served as general manager of the firm.

In a separate statement, the graft watchdog said that Sun Hongzhi - who was a deputy head of one of China's business regulators, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce - had also been expelled from the party and would be prosecuted for bribery and embezzlement.

The state prosecutor said in a statement on its website that it had begun the indictment process into Liao and Sun and that both had been placed in detention.