* Customs officer died from unnatural causes-Xinhua
* Unclear if death linked to port fraud inquiry
(Adds details, trade comments)
By Fayen Wong
SHANGHAI, Aug 7 Chinese police are investigating
the death from unnatural causes of the deputy commissioner of
customs at Qingdao port which is under investigation for alleged
commodity financing fraud, state news agency Xinhua said on
Xinhua said Qingdao Customs Deputy Commissioner Bian Peiquan
died on Aug. 5. It did not give any further details.
Officials at Qingdao Customs did not respond to telephone
and fax requests seeking more details. Qingdao police declined
to comment, adding that investigations are ongoing.
The major fraud investigation at Qingdao port 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
Bian, 59, was in charge of the operations at the service
centre and staff training, according to the official customs
A source that knows Bian directly said his administrative
role in customs would give him limited exposure to the port's
The customs authority is in charge of eight terminals
located in the northern Shandong province, including Qingdao,
Rizhao, Weihai and Yantai ports.
Global banks including 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 and Polly Yam; Editing by Paul Tait,
Ed Davies and Michael Perry)