Sep 29, 2014 04:13 PM

Three More NDRC Pricing Officials Come under Investigation

The pricing department head Liu Zhenqiu (left) and two deputies, Zhou Wangjun (center) and Li Caihua, were the subject of a probe

(Beijing) – Three more senior officials in the pricing department of China's top economic planner have been put under investigation, sources with knowledge of the matter say.

The National Development and Reform Commission told its staff on September 28 that department head Liu Zhenqiu and two deputies, Zhou Wangjun and Li Caihua, were the subjects of a probe.

The investigation started on September 27, the sources said. One source said the men were detained, but it is unclear who took them away.

The NDRC's pricing department supervises and approves tariffs for electricity, water and other public utilities and services, including medical services and drugs.

Liu graduated from Renmin University in 1986 and he is in charge of pricing for medical services, drugs and electricity. He was promoted to his position in May when Cao Changqing retired.

Zhou, a native of Xiangtan in the central province of Hunan, graduated from Beijing Jiaotong University in 1987, and is in charge of prices for medical services and drugs.

Li used to head the electricity price office and was promoted to deputy head of the pricing unit in 2010.

"Within two months, five senior officials of the unit have been put under investigation," a source close to the NDRC said, counting the recently retired Cao. "There are only two deputy heads now."

Cao was detained in August at Beijing Capital International Airport, sources said. He took over as head of the department in 2007.

A source in the electricity industry said he was not surprised to see Cao was being investigated because the pricing department had too much power and whoever led it was at risk of abusing it. "The department is one of the most powerful in the NDRC," he said.

Guo Jianying, a supervisor in the pricing department, was put under investigation around September 22, and that inquiry is linked to Cao, sources said. It is not clear who is investigating Guo.

The probe of Cao was likely linked to a graft investigation going on at the National Energy Administration (NEA), a source with knowledge of the matter said. Five NEA senior officials are being investigated.

Liu Tienan, the former deputy head of the NDRC who once worked at the NEA, told a court on September 24 that he took some 35.6 million yuan in bribes and used his position to seek personal gain.

Liu lost his job in March 2013 and was expelled from the Communist Party five months later. He is one of the highest-ranking officials to face criminal charges since the party launched its anti-corruption drive in late 2012.

(Rewritten by Guo Kai)

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