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Tencent fired more than 100 people and blacklisted 23 firms last year in fighting bribery and embezzlement

Tencent Holdings said on Monday that it fired more than 100 employees for bribery and embezzlement last year, and it blocked 23 companies from doing business with the Chinese social media and video gaming giant.

The scope of the internal corruption appeared more severe than in 2021, when it affected nearly 70 staff and blacklisted 13 firms in its anti-corruption campaign.

Some corruption cases last year included employees of its Platform and Content Group, responsible for Tencent's news portal, and staff of its flagship Timi and Lightspeed gaming studios, who were found to have accepted bribes or stolen company property, according to a WeChat post by the company's anti-graft department.

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More than 10 of the fired employees were also reported to the police for alleged crimes. In one case, former drama production worker Zhang Meng was sentenced to three years in prison. Li Zengwang, another former employee from Tencent's news division, has been imprisoned for two years.

Tencent "has always taken a 'zero-tolerance' stance" against such behaviour and will never again hire the people involved", it said in the post. "External firms involved [in offering bribes] will be blacklisted from future contracts."

During an internal meeting last month, Tencent founder and CEO Pony Ma Huateng called employee corruption "astonishing", Chinese media Jiemian reported.

Tencent has been improving anti-corruption investigations to be smarter and more digital, Ma said, adding that most "low-level problems" can be spotted via data analysis during internal audits. He also noted that the company would continue to enhance probes this year.

Tencent began to report on its anti-corruption campaign in 2019, offering regular updates. Other Chinese Big Tech firms like Alibaba Group Holding and Meituan have since made similar moves.

Alibaba, owner of the South China Morning Post, recently appointed Jane Jiang, who worked in its anti-graft and human resources departments, as chief people officer, to take effect in April.

Meituan last week also published an update on its anti-corruption work last year, reporting 47 employees and 60 external partners to the police over bribes and embezzlement.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.