A top Chinese banker has killed himself amid a corruption investigation

The headquarters of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline.
The headquarters of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline.
Image: Reuters/Reinhard Krause
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One of China’s top bankers and a former regulator jumped to his death on Tuesday (Jan.27) morning, after being put under investigation earlier this month by the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog.

Yang Zezhu, 62, former chairman of Changjiang Securities, resigned from his post after the mid-sized Chinese brokerage said on Jan. 6 that he was being probed by the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection for “personal reasons.”

Yang fell to his death from his 12th floor apartment in Wuhan, capital of the central Hubei province, where the brokerage is based. A suicide note was found by police, local news portal cnhubei reported (link in Chinese). The report was cited by other Chinese media, including the official Xinhua news agency, indicating that government officials think it is credible.

Changjiang is the latest casualty in China’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign that has focused on the financial sector since last summer’s stock market turmoil. A long list of top executives from China’s largest banks, brokers and hedge funds—executives comparable to Warren Buffet or Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein in the US—have been rounded up in the past year, as the Chinese authorities tracked down the root cause of the stock crash.

Yang’s unnatural death follows that of Chen Hongqiao, president of Guosen Securities, who hanged himself in his Shenzhen home last October. Chen was not under any official investigation before his death. But his suicide happened shortly after Zhang Yujun, the former assistant chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, was taken away for corruption investigation. Chen served as a deputy to Zhang at the top market regulator.

Yang’s career can also be traced back to financial regulation. Before joining Changjiang in 2013, he headed the Hubei provincial branch of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, which oversees government conglomerates, for seven years.

Chinese media report the investigation into Yang is related to his days at the Hubei regulator. Yang and his son were reported by several companies for fraud worth $HK80 million (around $10 million) in 2013. He was then removed from his post by the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog, financial newspaper China Business News reported (link in Chinese) citing unnamed sources with the government, before becoming head of Changjiang Securities.