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China's top anti-graft regulator to inspect 26 state companies

[HONG KONG] China is singling out 26 state-owned enterprises as targets for its first large-scale inspections in 2015, after similar probes last year found graft and abuse of power.

Energy companies including China National Petroleum Corp., the nation's biggest oil and gas company, feature on the target list.

China National Offshore Oil Corp., the country's biggest offshore oil and gas explorer, and State Grid Corp. of China are also named, according to a statement yesterday from the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

President Xi Jinping has warned that corruption is a threat to the party's survival and his anti-graft campaign has snared about 100,000 officials of various levels in the past two years.

CNPC and its listed unit PetroChina Co. have been in the eye of the anti-corruption storm, already losing more than a dozen senior officials to investigations since August 2013.

Officials at state-owned companies were found taking bribes, using power for personal gains and committing other serious violations, the inspection commission said in December after completing month-long inspections on eight companies.

Some officials from state-owned companies deliberately bought assets at high prices and sold them low to make personal gains, and some others used company resources for personal promotion and advancement, the commission said in yesterday's statement.

The "sword of inspection" should hang over the head of officials in order to ensure the state-owned companies respected the law, the commission said when explaining the purpose of the inspections.

More than 70 officials from state-owned companies have been investigated and more officials may be caught as the discipline inspections begin to expand, according to a report today from the state-owned Xinhua-controlled Economic Information newspaper.

Former Chairman Jiang Jiemin was investigated in September 2013, a few months after getting promoted to minister of state- owned assets administration. He was expelled from the party last year and is waiting for his trial.

Zhou Yongkang, a former head of CNPC, was expelled from the party in December on charges ranging from leaking official secrets to accepting bribes. Zhou was a former member of the party's top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee.