China’s Anti-Corruption Drive Nets Another Top Banker

December 9, 2015, 12:37 PM UTC
Agricultural Bank Of China Ltd. Vice Chairman And President Attends Earnings News Conference
Zhang Yun, president and vice chairman of Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., pauses during a news conference in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Agricultural Bank of China, the first of the nation's biggest lenders to report fourth-quarter earnings, posted an unexpected decline in profit as net fee income fell and bad-loan provisions swelled. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg Bloomberg via Getty Images

The president of China’s fourth largest state-owned bank stepped down last week because of an anti-corruption probe, according to a report.

Agricultural Bank of China’s head Zhang Yun resigned last Friday for personal reasons, but respected business magazine Caixin then said the resignation was linked to an anti-corruption case investigating another bank official.

Zhang was demoted within the Communist Party and put on two years of probation following the investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said Caixin, noting that it’s not clear if investigators found proof of wrongdoing.

The anti-corruption investigation into China’s finance industry has picked up steam over the past month. Yesterday the biggest state-owned bank, ICBC, said 137 staff had been disciplined in a graft investigation. That followed similar actions at the country’s biggest state-owned investment bank, Citic Group, and China Construction Bank, the second biggest state-owned lender. ICBC, CCB and Agricultural Bank are all bigger than the U.S.’s biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) by assets.

Close observers of the Communist Party say the recent focus on corruption within the finance system is partly a legitimate insider-trading investigation, but also a political campaign to break up political cliques in the country’s biggest state-owned enterprises.