Former Chair of One of China’s Biggest State-owned Financial Conglomerates under Investigation for Corruption

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The former chair of one of China’s biggest state-owned financial holding companies has been placed under investigation by central government authorities over allegations of corruption, following the arrest of around a dozen of his colleagues.

On 5 April, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) announced that Li Xiaopeng (李晓鹏), the former party committee secretary and chairman of China Everbright Group, had been placed under disciplinary review and investigation due to “suspicions of serious disciplinary and legal violations.”

The announcement arrives after Li stepped down from his position with Everbright Group in March of last year, only two months prior to his scheduled retirement, following the launch of sweeping corruption investigations into the group that led to the arrest of at least ten of Li’s former colleagues.

Li Xiaopeng is the second “financial tiger” to be placed under formal investigation by Chinese authorities this year, following the toppling of Liu Liangge (刘连舸), the former chair of big state-owned lender Bank of China (BOC).

64-year old Li is one of the leading figures in the state-owned Chinese financial sector, and has held a string of senior positions at key banks since first joining Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) in 1995. These include Vice President of ICBC’s Henan Branch, Vice President of ICBC, and Vice Chairman and General Manager of China Merchants Group.

In December 2017, Li Xiaopeng joined Everbright Group as party committee secretary and chair.

Following the launch of the eighth round of central government inspections in September 2021, at least 10 executives from the Everbright Group have been placed under arrest, most of whom held senior positions at Everbright Bank.

These include Xia Wei (夏伟), general manager of the trading bank department of Everbright Bank; Du Xiongfei (杜雄飞), general manager of the debt financing department and investment bank department of Everbright Securities;, Zhou Jiangtao (周江涛), former party secretary and president of the Nanning branch of Everbright Bank , Zhang Huayu (张华宇), former deputy party secretary and deputy president of Everbright Bank, Su Shude (苏树德), former party secretary and president of the Nanning branch of Everbright Bank, and Chen Shuang (陈爽), former party secretary and executive director of China Everbright Group.

In June 2022, four of Everbright Group’s senior executives were placed under investigation within the space of just over a week, including Lu Xing (卢兴), general manager and auditor of the risk management department of Everbright Financial Asset Management Co., Ltd., San Xiangyu (伞翔宇), former deputy party secretary and deputy general manager of China Youth Travel Group Co., Ltd., Li Shaoping (李少平), former chairman and general manager of China Everbright Holdings Co., Ltd., and Long Jin (龙瑾), former director of the conference management department of Logan (Tianjin) International Business Exhibition Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Youth Travel Group.

In March 2022, Everbright Group announced that Wang Jiang (王江), the president of the China Construction Bank, would take over Li Xiaopeng’s position as chair, just two months prior to Li’s retirement at the age of 63.

Everbright Group is one of the five centrally managed financial enterprise groups that have been included in recent corruption investigations by central government authorities.

The group is one of three central financial holding companies, and was established in 1983 as a joint initiative by the Ministry of Finance and China Investment Corporation (CIC). Everbright Group made the Fortune Global 500 for eight consecutive years from 2015 to 2022.

As of the end of 2021, Everbright Group’s total assets exceeded 6.5 trillion yuan, with listed subsidiaries including Everbright Securities and Everbright Bank, which is its chief source of profit.

Everbright Bank released its 2022 financial report on 24 March, indicating that its revenue last year was 151.632 billion yuan, for a slight decrease of 0.7% compared to the previous year. Net profit attributable to the parent company was 44.807 billion yuan, for an increase of 3.2% year-on-year.