Caixin
Jan 07, 2021 08:53 PM
FINANCE

Ex-Boss of China’s Biggest Policy Bank Sentenced to Life for Bribery

Hu Huaibang, a former chief of policy lender China Development Bank, was sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery. Photo: Chengde Intermediate People’s Court
Hu Huaibang, a former chief of policy lender China Development Bank, was sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery. Photo: Chengde Intermediate People’s Court

A former chairman of China’s biggest policy bank was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for taking bribes, marking the end of the trial of another financial big shot who fell to the country’s years-long anti-corruption campaign.

Hu Huaibang, a former boss of the China Development Bank (CDB), was convicted of taking 85.5 million yuan ($13.2 million) of bribes from 2009 to 2019 in exchange for using his power to facilitate financing, business operations and promotions for others, according to a court statement (link in Chinese).

The punishment also included deprivation of political rights for life and confiscation of all personal property. Hu accepted the sentence, according to the statement.

In recent years, China’s sweeping campaign to stamp out corruption in financial regulatory agencies and companies has resulted in numerous senior officials and tycoons falling from their lofty positions, including Hu. Another is Lai Xiaomin, a former chairman of one of China’s four largest state-owned bad-debt managers who was sentenced to death for bribery on Tuesday.

 Read more
In Depth: Former Policy Bank Chief Used Personnel Shifts, Strong-Arm Tactics to Funnel Loans

Hu, 65, retired from his position as CDB chair in September 2018 after working there for over five years. In July 2019, he was placed under investigation by China’s top anti-graft body. In early 2020, the country’s top prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for him.

During his tenure at the CDB, Hu allegedly helped two former highflying conglomerates — CEFC China Energy Co. Ltd. and HNA Group Co. Ltd. — obtain billions of dollars in dubious credit that fueled their meteoric expansions, Caixin previously reported.

Hu helped CEFC during the energy giant’s years-long credit-driven expansion, which saw the previously little-known firm amass a wealth of assets worldwide, including in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. CEFC founder Ye Jianming, one of China’s most mysterious tycoons, has been under investigation since early 2018.

The CDB’s loans to embattled aviation titan HNA have also raised eyebrows, as they surged during Hu’s tenure, reaching around 80 billion yuan at the end of 2018, a CDB source said.

Hu resorted to tactics that included removing, transferring or simply overruling underlings who opposed his efforts to funnel huge amounts of loans to the two companies, both of which later became targets of a regulatory crackdown on risky business.

Both CEFC and HNA are among a group of high-profile Chinese giants that accumulated billions of dollars in assets both at home and abroad in recent years. Many of them have been forced to sell off assets, as Beijing warned in mid-2017 of financial risks posed by their massive piles of debt.

The CDB is China’s largest policy lender by assets, followed by the Agricultural Development Bank of China and the Import-Export Bank of China. All the three state-owned banks were set up by China’s central government to fund projects that may not be highly profitable but are crucial to social and economic development, including infrastructure, energy and agriculture initiatives.

Zhang Yuzhe, Ji Tianqin, Han Wei and Yang Ge contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Luo Meihan (meihanluo@caixin.com) and editor Lin Jinbing (jinbinglin@caixin.com)

Read more about Hu Huaibang’s case:

In Depth: Former Policy Bank Chief Used Personnel Shifts, Strong-Arm Tactics to Funnel Loans

Prosecutors Sign Off on Arrest of Former Boss of Policy Bank CDB

Former China Development Bank Boss Investigated for Corruption

In Depth: Investigation Casts Shadow on Rosneft’s China Investor CEFC

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