May 14, 2014 / 3:16 AM / 4 years ago

China's CITIC Securities fines chairman for criticising state bank profits

SHANGHAI, May 14 (Reuters) - China’s biggest securities company CITIC has fined its chairman for criticising in public the country’s largest bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), according to a company memo obtained by Reuters.

Wang Dongming, chairman of state-owned CITIC Securities Co Ltd , told a banking conference in Beijing on Saturday that ICBC’s strong profits often anger its clients.

His remarks, which were widely circulated via online video, came as Wang drew a contrast between Chinese financial institutions’ big profits and what customers often criticise as their low level of service.

“Some people say, when Industrial and Commercial Bank of China reports two or three hundred billion yuan in after-tax profit, people around the country will curse,” Wang said.

In the internal memo, CITIC said it had fined Wang two months salary.

“In circulating this notice, (the company) warns everyone to be cautious in making comments in public forums and to pay special attention that our clients’ interests and feelings are not harmed,” the notice said.

CITIC did not answer calls seeking comment on Wednesday morning.

Wang earned 5.83 million yuan ($935,900) in salary last year, according to public filings. If the salary remained unchanged, he would be fined about 972,000 yuan.

Bank profits have in the past become a political flashpoint in China, as state-owned banks like ICBC benefit from interest-rate controls that guarantee them healthy lending margins.

In 2012, then-Premier Wen Jiabao said China’s biggest banks “make profits far too easily” because “a small number of major banks occupy a monopoly position.” ($1 = 6.2291 Chinese Yuan) (Reporting by Gabriel Wildau and Hong Kong Newsroom; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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