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Tencent steps up anti-corruption compliance by firing 60 staff for bribery in 2019

2020-01-09 15:39 Thursday


China's tech giant Tencent fired over sixty employees during the first nine months of 2019 for alleged bribery and corruption, according to a recent announcement.

Among those cases, ten were handed over to Chinese judicial authorities and public security for further investigation.

Tencent, the Shenzhen-based social network and online games operator, posted a message on its official WeChat public account about the anti-corruption sweep. It said it had followed compliance regulations by looking into more than 40 anti-corruption cases in the past 9 months.

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Most of the cases were said to involve corruption, bribery and misappropriation of company assets. Of the 60 offenders, 10 were arrested and at least 2 held positions at the company of director-level or above.

The rule-breaking was found among the company's 6 business groups, including Cloud & Smart Industries Group (CISG), Interactive Entertainment Group (IEG) and Technology Engineering Group (TEG), according to the official statement.

Companies within China's tech sector have been raising their anti-corruption compliance measures amid an industry-wide slowdown in investments in the Asia-Pacific region in order to lower internal losses.

Tencent also blacklisted 16 companies involved in misbehavior in relation to what it laid out and referred to the so-called "high voltage line" in its own corporate social responsibility report. This term covers the company standard that forbids 6 main kinds of behaviors such as taking and offering bribes, working for competitors of the company, as well as sharing sensitive information with external sources.

"The high voltage line is one important part of Tencent’s culture. Once the personal behavior of an employee touches this line, they will be fired," said Tencent in a statement.

"There's no cooperation any more. We'll no longer accept or offer any service or product to those companies," the statement continued.

Among those 16 blacklisted firms is a Henan-based company that serves ads on WeChat, along with another from Zhejiang that sells support for Tencent's 'smart campus' range of services.

The crackdown on bribery and corruption in China, initiated by President Xi Jinping shortly after he took power in 2013, has widened to the tech sector recently as the industry becomes more central to the overall economy. In the country, guanxi, or paid connections, are considered crucial when doing business so crackdowns in the corporate arena may come at a high price for private firms.

Tencent's just one of a whole group of local Asia Pacific tech companies boosting their efforts to enforce their anti-corruption compliance rules more stringently. Bytedance, the Beijing-based owner of global micro-video app TikTok, fired an executive last year who was uncovered to be taking bribes, including luxury cars and millions of yuan from one business partner.

Also in 2018, the former president of Alibaba's Youku video platform, the Chinese equivalent of Youtube, Yang Weidong, was arrested under suspicion of taking bribes.

In December 2019, Meituan Dianping, the on-demand services company said that just under 90 individuals, including its own staff and staff from partner companies, were being investigated by officials as a result of the company's increased anti-corruption measures and scrutiny over other misdemenours.


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