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Tencent Corruption Scandal: Over 120 Employees Fired for Violating Anti-Fraud Rules

Tencent Corruption Scandal

In a significant development, Chinese tech giant Tencent has taken decisive action against corruption within its ranks, leading to the termination of more than 120 employees last year. The company, renowned as the world’s leading video game maker and owner of the widely-used super app WeChat, revealed that the dismissals were a result of violations of its anti-fraud rules, encompassing acts of corruption and embezzlement.

Founder Ma Huateng, expressing shock at the level of corruption within Tencent in 2022, committed to addressing the issue, according to state media reports. The latest information comes from Tencent Group’s Anti-Fraud Investigation Department, which shared its findings on the “Sunshine Tencent” WeChat public account on February 2.

Throughout 2023, the Anti-Fraud Investigation Department unearthed and probed more than 70 cases, referring to them as “Tencent high-voltage lines,” involving over 120 individuals. These employees were subsequently terminated for breaching “Tencent’s high-voltage line,” and nearly 20 of them were handed over to public security organs due to suspected criminal activities.

Among those affected, some belonged to the group’s Platforms and Content Group (PCG), responsible for managing content such as news, sports, and movies. Others were associated with the medical services unit, where Tencent’s telemedicine applications hold a significant market share.

The report also disclosed that one Tencent employee implicated in the corruption case received a four-year prison sentence and a 100,000 yuan ($14,000) fine.

The backdrop to Tencent’s internal crackdown is the challenging period faced by China’s technology giants. Following a phase of rapid growth, the industry confronted a comprehensive regulatory crackdown initiated by Chinese authorities in late 2020. This regulatory scrutiny led to a substantial loss in market value, with the profits of influential internet companies, including Tencent, witnessing a sharp decline. Currently employing just over 100,000 individuals, Tencent has also grappled with China’s restrictions on online gaming time for individuals under 18, impacting the group’s profitability.

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Amidst these challenges, Tencent is exploring opportunities overseas, particularly in Europe, as it seeks to enhance its capabilities through acquisitions of stakes in renowned video game studios. The company’s proactive response to the corruption issue reflects a commitment to addressing internal challenges as it navigates the broader complexities of the evolving technology landscape.

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