An executive at Chinese petroleum giant Sinopec has been demoted after it was discovered he spent millions on alcohol – including the finest cru classe Bordeaux.
Lu Guangyu, the general manager of operations in Guangdong for state oil giant Sinopec spent some 1.6 million yuan (US$245,000) of company money buying bottles of 1996 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild as well as an expensive Chinese liquor called Moutai.
Reports vary as to the number of bottles of the Lafite – selling at the moment for around £1,125 (US$1850) a bottle – Lu bought, allegedly to sweeten deals with local officials, one Chinese blogger reported.
While the Washington Post reported 1,176 bottles, Forbes had 17 bottles, and the New Yorker could only account for one.
While 17 bottles sounds more likely, given the sums involved, even one bottle bought at many times the average Chinese worker’s monthly wage has outraged opinion.
Sinopec is a government-owned, and the scandal ‘has reinforced opinion that big state-owned corporations serve the interests and lavish lifestyles of a tiny group of insiders,’ as Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post.
The purchase of the bottles came to light when copies of invoices were posted on the web.
They showed Sinopec’s branch in Guangdong purchased the bottles of Lafite in September last year.
Three days after the revelations, the price of petrol in China roses to its highest-ever level, to the fury of bloggers.
Moutai, a spirit distilled from fermented sorghum, is a luxury in China. Bottles of vintage Moutai can fetch millions of yuan at auction.
Written by Adam Lechmere