July 9, 2015 / 2:56 PM / 4 years ago

Former Tencent employees, including Alibaba executive, held in graft probe

People ride a double bicycle past a logo of The Alibaba Group at the company's headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province November 10, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s leading social network and online media company Tencent Holdings Ltd said late on Thursday that around half a dozen former employees had been detained by the authorities as part of an ongoing graft investigation.

It did not name those detained, but a spokesman for rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said Patrick Liu, president of the e-commerce giant’s digital entertainment unit, who was previously head of Tencent Video, was also taken into custody.

“An internal investigation brought to light bribery and corruption among some online video employees,” Tencent said in a statement. “The police have been notified and we are waiting for the results.”

Tencent said five or six former employees had been detained by Chinese authorities and the investigation was ongoing.

Liu and other former members of Tencent’s video business left the company following a leadership reshuffle around 2013, later joining Alibaba.

“We understand Patrick Liu with our digital entertainment unit has been detained by the authorities. This issue is related to his time at Tencent and has nothing to do with Alibaba,” Alibaba spokesman Bob Christie said in an email.

A Bloomberg reporter first tweeted that Liu had been taken into custody on Thursday.

(This story’s headline has been corrected to clarify that Tencent did not identify the Alibaba executive as one of those taken into custody)

Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru and Paul Carsten in BEIJING; Editing by Ted Kerr and Ian Geoghegan

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