2017-04-19 07:54:37

A Beijing branch of one of China’s largest banks came under fire this week when it was revealed that an employee may have misused money from high-flying customers who had poured more than 3 billion yuan ($436 million) into unofficial financial products at the bank’s Hangtianqiao location, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Tuesday.

The same day, the head office of China Minsheng Bank (CMB), a Fortune Global 500 company, issued an official statement seen by Sixth Tone in which they confirmed that the employee in question, Zhang Ying, is suspected to have engaged in illegal activity and is currently being investigated by police.

Most of the people with money at stake are VIP clients from the bank’s exclusive golf club — many of whom were not aware of the scandal until they were notified by the authorities.

CMB stated that they have established a special task force to deal with the case and ascertain the facts as soon as possible. “We will protect the safety of [our clients’] funds to the best of our ability,” the statement read, “and take related responsibility according to the law.”

Business news outlet Caixin reported that some of the documents involved — which were never approved by CMB’s head office — may bear counterfeit seals.

An employee at the Hangtianqiao branch told Caixin they were surprised by the news, as the branch had a long track record as a model example for other locations. “Comrade Zhang Ying is an outstanding representative among the many excellent Party members at Minsheng Bank,” said the employee, who was not named in the report.

Zhang was previously given an award by the company as an “advanced individual,” according to Party-affiliated website 12371.cn. She joined CMB in 2011, and after just three years turned the Hangtianqiao location into one of the top-performing branches in China.

According to one of its social media accounts, Hangtianqiao has more than 320 private banking clients — the most of any CMB branch in China — and its employees are on average just 29 years old. “There’s nothing they cannot achieve — their outstanding performance records are being broken time and time again,” the branch wrote on its WeChat public account, which has since been deactivated.

CMB’s official statement concluded by saying that the Hangtianqiao branch’s daily operations would continue as usual.

Caixin also reported on Wednesday that CMB’s former deputy president, Zhao Pinzhang, was taken away by authorities at an unknown airport last week, possibly for an investigation into construction-related loans.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: A man cleans the sign of a China Minsheng Bank branch in Shanghai, Aug. 5, 2013. Sun Zhan/Sixth Tone)