A scandal afflicting one of China's top commercial banks appears to be growing. Friday the bank revealed managers embezzled almost $500 million. But China says the problems will not affect plans for overseas bank listings.
The President of the Bank of China, Liu Mingkang, says that bank executives have stolen $483 million from the bank's Kaiping branch in the southern province of Guangdong. Mr. Liu told reporters in Beijing Friday that the managers laundered the money through casinos in Macau, Las Vegas and elsewhere. He said that the bank lacked integrity, discipline and compliance.
Mr. Liu, who became the bank's head in 2000, promised to investigate the case thoroughly.
News of the Kaiping branch problems comes just as the Bank of China is grappling with a separate loan scandal involving its New York branch. American and Chinese regulators recently fined the bank $20 million for misconduct.
Despite the problems at the Bank of China, a senior Chinese leader is playing down the broader impact on China's banking system.
During his annual news conference in Beijing Friday, Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji said the scandal will not affect plans for domestic or overseas listings. Mr. Zhu said China's four big commercial banks have assets of more than a trillion dollars, so it is not surprising that problems will emerge at some bank branches. He said the government would handle each case according to the law.