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CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Customs official in China's Qingdao dies of unnatural causes -Xinhua
August 7, 2014 / 2:06 AM / 3 years ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Customs official in China's Qingdao dies of unnatural causes -Xinhua

(Corrects name in second paragraph)

* Chinese police investigating death -Xinhua

* Qingdao port at centre of probe into alleged financing fraud

SHANGHAI, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The deputy commissioner of Qingdao Customs, which manages the Chinese city's ports, has died of unnatural causes, state news agency Xinhua said on Thursday.

Xinhua said police were investigating the death on Aug. 5 of Deputy Commissioner Bian Peiquan. It did not give any further details.

Officials at Qingdao Customs could not be reached for comment after repeated attempts due to phone lines being busy.

The port has been at the centre of a major investigation into alleged commodity financing fraud, which has prompted global banks and trading houses to fire off a series of lawsuits over their estimated $900 million exposure.

It was not clear if Bian's death has any links to the port scandal, but his death comes after a number of high-profile suspected suicides of executives from large state-owned firms since President Xi Jinping launched a campaign against graft last year.

Beijing's anti-corruption campaign, which had focused on energy giant PetroChina earlier this year, has begun to turn to the mining sector and authorities are also investigating the suspected metal financing fraud at Qingdao port, China's third largest.

The customs authority is in charge of eight terminals located in the northern Shandong province, including Qingdao, Rizhao, Weihai and Yantai ports.

Global banks inlcuding HSBC and Standard Chartered have launched legal action since Chinese authorities started a probe into whether the firm at the centre of the allegations, Decheng Mining, used fake warehouse receipts to obtain multiple loans at Qingdao port. Decheng Mining has not commented on the case. (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Paul Tait and Ed Davies)

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