China anti-graft agency says Bank of Jilin's ex-chief under probe

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BEIJING, Nov 18 (Reuters) - China's anti-graft watchdog said on Monday the former chairman of Bank of Jilin Co JLBNK.UL is being investigated, according to a statement on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

Zhang Baoxiang, the bank's ex-chairman and ex-party chief, is suspected of serious violation of laws and regulations, CCDI said, without elaborating.

The rare seizure by government of Baoshang Bank earlier this year and state rescues of Jinzhou Bank 0416.HKand Hengfeng Bank have sharpened concerns about the health of hundreds of small lenders as China's economic growth slows to near 30-year lows.

In the past month, speculation of poor management prompted two rare bank runs in central and northeastern China respectively, fueling renewed concerns of banking risks.

Zhang stepped down from his roles in the bank in November, according to the statement.

Bank of Jilin was not immediately contactable for comment.

Total assets of the Bank of Jilin stood at 368.1 billion yuan ($52.63 billion) by end-June, according to its semi-annual report.

Net profits over the first six months of this year almost halved year-on-year to 784.9 million yuan, while its non-performing loan ratio was 2.86% by end-June, higher than the industry-wide average of 2%.

The risks facing the bank mainly stemmed from concentrated loans to single clients, mounting investments, deteriorating asset quality, and insufficient capital, according to credit rating report by China Lianhe Credit Rating Co.

The bank was among a batch of smaller lenders, including the Bank of Jinzhou, who delayed its 2018 annual report.

($1 = 6.9941 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Cheng Leng, Ryan Woo and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Louise Heavens)

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