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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese oil refining giant Sinopec has demoted a top executive who bought 1.6 million yuan ($245,900) of wine and spirits after details of the purchase leaked onto the Internet and sparked an uproar over extravagance at the state-owned firm.
Sinopec, which is Asia's top refiner, said Monday that it had demoted Lu Guangyu, who was general manager at the company's operations in the southern province of Guangdong, for "seriously harming Sinopec's image."
The company also fined Lu an unspecified sum and ordered him to pay back 130,000 yuan for alcohol he and his associates had already drunk, it said in a statement on its website (www.sinopecgroup.com).
His purchases included 480 bottles of Moutai, an expensive Chinese liquor traditionally drunk at state banquets, Sinopec said, adding it had re-sold bottles which had not already been drunk.
Some of the bottles cost almost 12,000 yuan each -- far more than the average Chinese earns in a month.
State media and China's spirited internet users said the purchase of the alcohol, which was meant for internal company use, was especially galling considering how much gasoline and diesel prices had risen recently.
Many Chinese are also struggling to make ends meet as inflation climbs. Consumer prices rose 5.4 percent in the year to March.
Sinopec Corp is the company's listed arm. ($1 = 6.507 Chinese Yuan)
Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Zhou Xin; Editing by Alex Richardson