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Anti-corruption Enters China's Tech Industry

2019-01-14 15:32 Monday

ByteDance, a $75 billion Chinese startup based in Hong Kong, has handed over a second executive suspected of accepting bribes to the police in the past year, as Beijing's anti-corruption campaign reaches deep into the tech world.


According to Chinese media reports, ByteDance revealed last week that an executive was found to have taken bribes from business partners, including luxury cars and millions in cash. The company provided no details but said that it had fired the executive and cut ties with the business partner.

"ByteDance has a zero-tolerance policy to corruption," a company spokesman said by email.

ByteDance surpassed Uber as the world's most valuable startup last month with a $3 billion investment from Japan's Softbank Group. Its app, Toutiao, has an estimated 173 million monthly active users in China. TikTok, another app developed by ByteDance, attracts more than 500 million users per month.

As early as May 2018, Chinese authorities had detained a ByteDance executive who the company said was under investigation for accepting bribes. ByteDance also fired two other employees.

"ByteDance is not the only Chinese tech company stepping up its fight against corruption, which has spread from government agencies to the business world since Chinese President Xi Jinping launched an anti-corruption campaign in 2012," said Nana Li, a senior research analyst at the Asian Corporate Governance Association.

Earlier this month, Yang Weidong, the president of Youku, a video-streaming platform controlled by Alibaba Group, was investigated for alleged corruption.

Meituan Dianping, a listed company with several well-known, has reported 89 suspects to the police since February amid heightened scrutiny of corruption and other unethical practices.

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