Head of $11 bn Chinese state firm found hanged amid graft probe

Visitors look at an anti corruption billboard featuring the alleged corruption communist party members, displayed at an exhibition in Beijing in 2007

The head of a multi-billion-dollar state-owned Chinese heavy machinery manufacturer was found hanging in his office as anti-corruption investigators probed his firm, state media said Tuesday. Police believe Wu Shengfu, 51, the general manager of China First Heavy Industries (CFHI), killed himself, the official Xinhua news agency reported. CFHI makes machinery for purposes ranging from nuclear power equipment to petrochemical and auto manufacturing. Its Shanghai-listed arm -- of which Wu was chairman -- has a market capitalisation of 66.8 billion yuan ($10.8 billion). His body was found early Monday in his office at the company headquarters in the northeastern city of Qiqihar, Xinhua said. The ruling Communist Party's feared anti-corruption investigators are carrying out a two-month inspection of the company, Chinese news portal reported, adding that whistleblowing allegations against Wu had circulated online previously. CFHI is one of the 53 enterprises directly run by the central government that are "key to national security and economy", according to its website. President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign has ensnared a long list of senior as well as low-ranking officials including the country's former security czar Zhou Yongkang, who was sentenced to life in jail in June. The drive has also led to a spike in official suicides to escape possible criminal proceedings and prevent the seizure of their ill-gotten gains, to the benefit of their families. Respected business news outlet Caixin said in January that 50 party and government officials have been publicly declared to have died of "unnatural causes" since 2012. That prompted the party earlier this year to order a survey of "unusual deaths" among officials, with details to be provided if the person was confirmed to have committed suicide. In June last year, the chief of a $2.0-billion Chinese copper producer fell to his death from a building, reportedly following corruption allegations. Later in the year, Lou Xuequan, a former district Party chief in the eastern city of Nanjing, reportedly hanged himself at his home having been dismissed from his position for accepting money as gifts. CFHI's shares jumped on Tuesday, closing up by their 10 percent limit at 10.22 yuan.