Police on manhunt for ZTE VP for bribing China Unicom: Reports

A senior VP at ZTE reportedly ran off in February, after his possible accomplice at China Unicom was removed from power and put under criminal investigation.

Chinese telecommunications company and smartphone manufacturer ZTE is involved in a central government-initiated anti-corruption campaign, with its senior vice president reportedly being hunted by police for allegedly bribing high-ranking officials of China Unicom, the country's second-biggest mobile network carrier.

Wu Hai, the 44-year-old veteran at ZTE, served not only as the company's VP, but also as the chief executive officer of ZTE Device China before he ran off in February, Caixin reported on Friday. While at ZTE, he was head of the company's so-called Chief Monitoring Office for China Unicom, a department designated with maintaining a business relationship with the Chinese operator.

An anonymous source close to ZTE told Caixin that Wu Hai gave almost 1 million yuan (almost $160,000) to high-ranking officers at China Unicom's network branch during the months of September and October 2012. A Beijing municipal prosecutor was in charge of Wu's case, and the police agency has been hunting for him since the second day of his disappearance, according to Caixin.

The source also claimed that Wu's case could be related to Zhang Zhijiang, who was the managing director of the the network construction department of the branch, and is currently removed from duty and has been under criminal investigation since December 15, 2014.

"The network construction department has a lot of power, as China Unicom invests dozens of billion yuan every year," the source said. "Although Zhang is not in control of everything, there is always some room for him to manipulate."

Zhang's removal from power is part of an anti-corruption campaign that has been widely chanted by the central government of China. An investigative team found in February that high-ranking officials at China Unicom are heavily involved in various kinds of corruption deals in collusion with contractors and suppliers.

ZTE was a major supplier of China Unicom's CDMA business, said Caixin.

The still-missing Wu, who served ZTE for more than 16 years and is considered to have "extraordinary managerial experience in sales", however, didn't fill his own pocket. The source said Wu "just wants to secure more orders for ZTE", and bribery is not uncommon in the industry.

ZTE issued a statement later in the day, saying that part of the Caixin report is untrue. However, it did not respond to whether Wu is on the run and under investigation, as IFENG.com reported on Friday.