China Is Cracking Down on Bankers. Here Are Some of the Targets.

Xi Jinping, the President of China, is increasing the Communist Party's control over the economy. The financial sector is one area that is coming under close scrutiny.

China Is Cracking Down on Bankers. Here Are Some of the Targets.

Xi Jinping has been ranting against corruption and greed in China's financial industry for years. He has made a number of prominent figures an example.

Recently, however, the anti-corruption campaign has accelerated, sweeping up a list of names from the financial and insurance sectors as Mr. Xi, and the Chinese Communist Party, seek to consolidate their control over a crucial facet in the economy.

China's anticorruption officials warned in February that they would "investigate" and "deal with people who neglect party leadership." They also told the finance executives to embrace party values instead of emulating the West, which they believe is focused solely on money.

China, in addition to its discipline campaign, has implemented sweeping reforms in its financial regulatory system. Party officials are also deeply embedded into state-owned institutions.

Wu Qiang is a Beijing-based political analyst and writer who writes about current affairs.

Mr. Wu stated that "they can only control personnel changes and run the leadership of the party through it."

In 2017, the extent to which the government was willing to go in order to bring down influential business figures became evident when police snatched Xiao Jianhua from his apartment in the Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong. Xiao Jianhua is a Chinese billionaire who managed assets for the ruling elite of the country. Last year, he was sentenced 13 years in jail.

Later, the party intervened to stop Jack Ma, cofounder of Alibaba, from launching what would have become a massive stock offering for Ant Financial in 2020. Ant, Alibaba's financial sister company, scrapped their plans and Mr. Ma has agreed to relinquish control of Ant this year.

Chinese regulators reported that they had punished banks and insurance companies 4,620 times in 2022. This is a 19% increase compared to the previous year. They also issued 7,561 fines for officials, which represents a 26 percent rise.

Professor Yuen Yuen An, of Johns Hopkins University's political economy department, said that "disciplining financial matters is an effective way to keep the elites in line."

According to the National Supervisory Commission and the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (the country’s anti-corruption watchdog), dozens of Chinese senior executives in the financial sector were investigated or sanctioned since the beginning of the year.

These are the notable figures and companies that were caught in the dragnet during this year.


Liu Ti is being investigated for alleged duty-related law violations. The investigation has not been explained by the authorities. Shanghai Stock Exchange has not responded to any requests for comment.


Li Xiaopeng is being investigated for alleged violations in discipline and the law. He was a former secretary of the party and chairman of China Everbright Group.

Chinese media reported that employees of Everbright Xinglong Trust were detained by authorities in Shenzhen in April. This was likely connected to the investigation of Mr. Li. The issue involves a Shenzhen real estate project that Everbright collaborated on with other developers.

The party committee of China Everbright Group -- the leadership units within state-owned companies that report to Communist Party -- has said it "strongly supports" the decision to probe Mr. Li, and will "fully" cooperate with anti-graft regulators.


Huang Xianhui is being investigated for suspected duty-related law violations.

Huarong Asset Management is a bad debt company established in 1999. It's one of four state-owned firms set up in the aftermath of the Asia Financial Crisis to acquire loans and assets whose value had plummeted.

Lai Xiaomin was sentenced in January 2021 to death for bribery and corruption, as well as bigamy, after receiving $277 million worth of bribes. In a rare instance of capital punishment in China for economic crimes, Lai Xiaomin was executed a few weeks later.


Liu Liange is being investigated by China's anti-corruption watchdogs. He was a former Party Secretary and President of the Bank of China.

Mr. Liu resigned from his other positions and was removed from the Bank of China in February. A month later, he resigned both as party secretary and president. Bank of China is a state-owned lender that has been accused of misappropriation of money, improper classification of risks of some loans, and other offenses.

Regulators revealed that on the day Mr. Liu's removal as party secretary was announced, the bank along with four other institutions had been fined for similar violations.

Since the start of the year, at least four senior executives of Bank of China were investigated for alleged violations of law and discipline.


Since April 2022, Tian Huiyu has been investigated on suspicion of insider trade and the leakage of insider information. He was president of China Merchants Bank from 2013 to 2022, and its shares are traded in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Chinese prosecutors brought a case in February against Mr. Tian accusing him of corruption, insider trading, and the leakage of insider knowledge. The prosecution accused Mr. Tian as well of "abusing his power for personal gains that caused especially heavy losses to the national interests."

Wang Liang said that the president of China Merchants Bank in October, "Tian's Huiyu case is a personal matter and does not have any direct relation with CMB."


China Renaissance Holdings announced a shocking announcement on February 16th: it had "not been able to contact" Bao Fan. Bao Fan is the chairman and CEO of the company and an important investment banker within the technology sector. Stock prices of the company plummeted after this disclosure.

The disappearance of Mr. Bao sent a chilling signal to the industry regarding the extent of Beijing's crackdown against the business elite. Chinese media reported the authorities had taken Mr. Bao in to help in an investigation into a former executive of his firm.

On February 26, the company released a statement stating that Mr. Bao "cooperates in an investigation" conducted by Chinese authorities. Since then, there hasn't been any update by the company on Mr. Bao Fan.


Zhou Gaoxiong was expelled in January from the Guangdong Rural Credit Union after being accused serious duty violations, and of suspected bribery. Mr. Zhou was forced to give up pension benefits after retiring three years ago.

This move was part of a crackdown against rural Chinese banks following a scandal that occurred in Henan Province, where rural banks refused depositors' withdrawals last year. The incident sparked protests.

In November, the authorities began an investigation into Mr. Zhou's alleged violation of law and discipline.