Former CNP chair indicted in corruption case

Crackdown aimed at tightening central control over PetroChina and other companies.

BEIJING — The former chairman of the stated-owned parent of PetroChina Ltd., Asia’s biggest oil producer, was indicted March 18 in a spreading anti-corruption crackdown.

Jiang Jiemin was charged with abusing his position at China National Petroleum Corp. and taking bribes, which led to large losses of public money, the national prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

A series of senior figures from the state-owned oil industry have been detained in the crackdown led by President Xi Jinping that appears to be aimed at tightening central control over PetroChina and other companies.

The energy industry was a power base for Zhou Yongkang, the ruling Communist Party’s former security chief who was arrested in December on charges including bribery and leaking state secrets. Control over state companies can provide political figures with jobs to reward supporters and money to promote their own careers.

Jiang was believed to have links to Zhou. Jiang was promoted in March 2013 to lead the Cabinet body that oversees China’s biggest state-owned companies but was fired from that post the following September in the midst of a corruption investigation.

As a full member of the ruling party’s 200-member Central Committee, at the time of his firing Jiang was the most senior official to fall since Xi took power in 2012.

A prominent Chinese newspaper, the 21st Century Business Herald, reported in 2013 that Jiang was close to disgraced politician Bo Xilai, a former rising party star who was sentenced that year to life in prison on charges of embezzlement and abuse of power.

The newspaper said when Jiang was at CNPC, he built oil refineries in places where Bo held leadership positions, including Liaoning province and the megacity of Chongqing, to enhance Bo’s “political performance.”

PetroChina, CNPC’s operating unit and main asset, is Asia’s biggest oil and gas producer by volume but is regarded by executives at other companies as bloated and inefficient.
On Monday, the ruling party announced it was investigating the company’s vice chairman, Liao Yongyuan. A company statement said he was suspected of violating discipline, the party’s term for corruption.

At least four other current or executives of CNPC or PetroChina also have been detained.

Also this week, Jiang’s former Cabinet agency, the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, announced it would carry out the first independent audit of the multibillion-dollar foreign assets of government companies.

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