Tencent fires over 100 employees over bribery and embezzlement claims

Tencent has announced that it has fired over 100 employees for violating company policies, with some referred to the police and later found guilty of bribery and embezzlement.

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The Hong Kong-listed company is the world’s top video game maker and the owner of popular super-app WeChat, but has struggled under a broad regulatory crackdown on China’s tech sector that began in late 2020.

In a statement, the firm, which in November posted its second consecutive quarterly decline in revenue, said it had found more than 100 employees guilty of violating its anti-fraud policy. Tencent CEO Pony Ma recently told an internal staff meeting that the level of corruption at the firm was ‘shocking’, according to state media reports.

The regulatory crackdown on video games in China, which led to hundreds of firms pledging to scrub ‘politically harmful’ content from their products and enforce curbs on underage players, has hit Tencent hard.

The company’s share price has almost doubled in Hong Kong since October 28, when it hit a low not seen since 2017. The company was also granted its first license for a video game in 18 months, ending a dry spell that had hampered the profits of the world’s top game maker.

The company said that those accused were found to have embezzled company funds and accepting bribes, with a number referred to police and some found guilty in court.

The employees were found to be guilty of violating the anti-fraud policy, a move that is seen as a response to the regulatory crackdown on China’s tech sector and the corruption within the company.

The statement also revealed that more than 10 employees were transferred to China’s public security organ and that there was an increase in the number of cases and personnel investigated and dealt with throughout 2022 compared to 2021.

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