China prosecutors order arrest of four ex-executives at Huarong for bribery

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Prosecutors have ordered the arrest of four senior former executives at subsidiaries of China’s largest distressed debt manager, China Huarong Asset Management Co, for suspected bribery, prosecutors said.

Wang Pinghua, former chairman of Huarong Real Estate Co, Bai Tianhui, former general manager of China Huarong International Holdings Ltd, Guo Jintong, deputy general manager of Huarong International, and Zhao Zichun, deputy general manager of Huarong Guiyang Real Estate, were sought on suspicion of taking bribes, the prosecutors said.

Company executives invariably lose their posts when action is initiated against them over suspected wrongdoing.

Their cases are under investigation by the Tianjin People’s Procuratorate No.2 Branch, the prosecutors in the port city said in a statement, without providing details.

Reuters could not immediately reach any of the four executives or their representatives for comment.

Huarong did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The prosecutors did not indicate whether the arrests were linked to a suspected corruption case of the former chairman of the parent company, Lai Xiaomin, who has been under investigation since April last year, accused of a long list of wrongdoing, from cronyism and taking bribes to the embezzlement of public property.

It was not possible to reach Lai or a representative for comment. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s anti-corruption body, in October released a video in which Lai expressed regret for his lapses.

More than 15 Hong Kong-listed, Huarong-linked companies saw their shares tumble last year after the arrest of Lai, one of the most senior executives to be brought to book in China’s anti-corruption campaign.

The parent company Huarong’s shares have lost about 60 percent in value since Lai’s arrest.

Reporting By Shu Zhang; Editing by Robert Birsel