Former Chinese central banker accused of taking massive bribes admits ‘huge mistake’

BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 10:  The People's Bank of China deputy governor Fan Yifei attend a press conference on the financial reform and development attends a press conference on the financial reform and development during the second session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at media centre on March 10, 2019 in Beijing, China. The second session of the 13th NPC opened in Beijing on Tuesday.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Fan Yifei, then-deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, at a press conference in 2019 in Beijing.Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Fan Yifei, a disgraced former Chinese central banker, has admitted making a “huge mistake” in comments aired as part of a documentary by state broadcaster CCTV that alleges he accepted massive bribes from the beginning of his tenure.

Fan, who was one of the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) top officials from 2015 to 2022, was charged with bribery in September. The fresh revelations about him came a day after Chinese leader Xi Jinping vowed to go after “flies and ants” as part of an anti-corruption campaign targeting industries such as finance, energy and infrastructure.

The CCTV program, which aired on Tuesday as part of a wide-ranging, four-part series, detailed the extent of Fan’s alleged crimes while he was the deputy governor. It described how he had received “extraordinarily massive” payments from executives of various companies in exchange for favors after taking up the PBOC’s second-highest position.

“I wanted to possess great power, and at the same time, to be rich,” Fan said in the documentary. “I made a huge mistake.”

According to CCTV, Fan accepted payments from businesspeople through his brother’s investment company. In return, he allegedly helped them secure loans and contracts. He also allegedly accepted gifts, such as concert tickets and invitations to golf games from others trying to get close to him.

The program did not specify how much money Fan had accepted overall.

Qian Long, a staff member of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), China’s top anti-corruption watchdog, told the state broadcaster that Fan had engaged in “a large number of invisible and mutated new types of corruption. He said Fan had “used the rules of the financial markets as a cover to implement power-for-money transactions.”

SEOUL, April 20, 2016-- Tang Shuangning, chairman of China Everbright Group, addresses the opening ceremony of Seoul Branch of China Everbright Bank in Seoul, capital of South Korea, on April 20, 2016. The opening ceremony marked China Everbright Bank's official entering in the market of South Korea. (Xinhua via Getty Images)

Fan was placed under investigation by Chinese authorities in November 2022, leading him to step down from the bank, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

He was expelled from the Communist Party in June 2023. In a joint statement, the CCDI and the National Supervisory Commission said Fan had taken part in lavish banquets and travel arrangements “in violation of regulations for a long time.” He helped arrange jobs for people, including relatives who were able to obtain salaries without actually working, the government agencies said.

Over the past year, the CCDI has embarked on a sweeping crackdown on the financial sector that has ensnared some of the country’s biggest names, including Liu Liange, former chairman of state-owned Bank of China, and Wang Bin, former head of state-owned China Life Insurance.

Earlier this month, another former top business leader in China was removed from the Communist Party, showing how the campaign was continuing into the new year.

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