BEIJING/HONG KONG – A high-level government probe into corruption at China's leading oil and gas firm widened on Tuesday, with three additional senior officials at the state-run giant being investigated over alleged breaches of discipline.
The announcement by the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which oversees China's state companies, followed a notice the day before on a probe into another top official at China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), parent of Hong Kong-listed PetroChina Co <0857.HK>.
The three senior officials have been put under investigation for "severe breaches of discipline," the SASAC said, employing the shorthand the Chinese government uses to describe graft.
The investigations were announced shortly after the close of the trial of Bo Xilai, once a rising star in China's leadership but charged with corruption, bribery and abuse of power.
The SASAC said group vice-president Li Hualin, vice-president of listed unit PetroChina Ran Xinquan, and PetroChina chief geologist Wang Daofu are all under investigation.
On Monday, the Ministry of Supervision said CNPC vice-president Wang Yongchun had been put under investigation for disciplinary breaches, without going into further detail.
A CNPC spokesman confirmed that Wang has resigned from his post.
PetroChina said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange that Li, Ran and Wang had also resigned.
A PetroChina spokesman said the company "does not tolerate any official involved in corruption or other crimes," but said the investigation would not affect the company's operations.
Shares of PetroChina were suspended from trading earlier on Tuesday pending the announcement on the investigation.
PetroChina's Ran was seen as a rising star in the company after turning the Changqing oil and gas field in northern China into a major producer.
China's President Xi Jinping has vowed to tackle entrenched corruption at every level of the government, noting that graft threatens the very survival of the ruling Communist Party.
The former head of China's energy administration, Liu Tienan, was removed from his post in May on charges of corruption, and will face prosecution.
(Reporting by Aizhu Chen, Judy Hua and David Stanway in BEIJING and Charlie Zhu and Alison Lui in HONG KONG; Editing by Jason Subler and Ryan Woo)