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Business/Employment

Alcatel-Shanghai Bell Launches Probe Following Corruption Claims

An inquiry is underway at Alcatel-Lucent's China joint venture into corruption allegations made by a senior manager who has since gone missing.

Jia Lining, the HR director at Alcatel Shanghai Bell Co. Ltd. (ASB), posted a long message in a WeChat chat group accusing "many high-level executives at ASB and its subsidiaries of corruption and abusing their power," the business website Caixin reported Friday.

Jia, 45, has not been seen since January 14. His car has been found on a Shanghai bridge and he reportedly sent a text message to a friend that "sounded 'like a farewell.'"

Caixin said it confirmed the news of Jia's online post and his disappearance from the SASAC agency, which supervises China's national level state-owned enterprises. Because of Alcatel-Lucent's partnership with state-owned China Huaaxin, ASB comes under SASAC's supervision.

In a statement Sunday, the ASB Communist Party and disciplinary committees confirmed Jia's disappearance. But they said there were "obvious discrepancies between the WeChat posts and the facts," the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The company has begun an investigation into the claims in coordination with supervising agencies, it said.

The statement also said Jia had not reported any cases of corruption to the disciplinary committee.

The allegations at ASB come as a high-profile nationwide campaign against corruption continues unabated after two years, forcing officials to trim their extravagances and netting a number of high-level targets.

It also puts yet another foreign-backed company in the cross-hairs of public opinion. During the past 18 months, Starbucks, Volkswagen, Apple and others have all come under public attack, while others, such as Qualcomm, have fallen foul of anti-trust laws. (See Qualcomm Looks to Soften China Antitrust Blow .)

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

R Clark 1/21/2015 | 10:23:51 AM
Re: Harrowing The interesting thing is this story died in the Chinese media as soon as Xinhua (the govt news service) published the ASB party statement.  If you're state-affiliated like ASB the party has your back. For a fully foreign-owned company public crucifixion is pretty much order of the day.
smkinoshita 1/19/2015 | 3:46:21 PM
Harrowing Regardless of the ultimate outcome, that story just sends the creeps up my spine.  It sounds like the script for many a movie, novel or video game and that's probably what is the most unsettling part of it all.
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