Bank of China employees take part in a robbery drill earlier this year. The kidnapping of a banker's wife in July led to the discovery of a wider scheme to embezzle money. (Photo/CFP)
The kidnapping of a banker's wife in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, inadvertently exposed a more widespread embezzlement plot by bank clerks, according to Caixin Century magazine.
In its latest issue, the magazine reported that police investigating the kidnapping of the wife of Zhang Fenghuai, chief of the Inner Mongolia branch of Bank of China, found that the case stemmed from a collusion between three bank clerks and the mastermind of the kidnapping named Tuya to embezzle bank funds for Tuya's investment.
Zhang's wife was abducted on July 19 and in addition to the 200 million yuan (US$31.27 million) demanded as ransom, the kidnappers sought the reinstatement of the three bank clerks who had been suspended from their jobs due to irregularities at the bank.
The wife was rescued by police the following day however as the kidnappers' demands gave police a vital link about the collusion between the bank clerks and the kidnappers.
Li Tao, a news department chief at Caixin Century, said Tuya is the operator of an underground banking system who helped Bank of China solicit deposits in return for the three clerks' promises to allow him to use these deposits for speculative investment in property and mines, or for lending at higher interest rates.
Tuya's illegal operation was starved of funds after the bank discovered the mysterious disappearance of deposits from over 40 savings accounts at its Inner Mongolia branch in June and ordered an audit, which led to the suspension of the three clerks.
The weekly quoted sources as saying that Tuya had stolen 2 billion yuan (US$312.7 million) from Bank of China, though this was denied by the bank.
Li said the fact that three low-ranking clerks were capable of stealing so much without being noticed demonstrates that the branch had clearly failed to enforce its own rules.
Quoting sources, the weekly said that Tuya had also bribed clerks from the Inner Mongolia branches of Agricultural Bank of China and Baoshang Bank to provide him with funds for his illegal business.
According to the sources, Tuya's collusion with clerks at Agricultural Bank of China had continued for at least five years before he switched to conspire with the Bank of China clerks.