Asia-Pacific News

Top Alibaba exec arrested in bribery probe

Former Tencent employees detained in graft probe
Former Tencent employees detained in graft probe

The executive director of Alibaba Pictures has been detained by Chinese authorities as part of a graft investigation.

Patrick Liu Chunning, 39, who is also the vice president of Alibaba Group and general manager of Alibaba Group's OSTV division, has reportedly been taken into custody by the Public Security Bureau in connection with an investigation into the alleged receipt of bribes during his employment with rival Tencent Holdings. Alibaba Group has a majority stake in Alibaba Pictures, a film production and investment company.

A statement released by the Chinese e-commerce giant on its official Weibo account said: "We understand that Liu Chunning has been detained by the police due to bribery allegations during his time at Tencent Holdings; we are extremely shocked by the news. We support Tencent's anti-corruption efforts and believe Tencent was being objective and fair regarding its report to the police."

The statement also said Alibaba would cooperate with the authorities and offer legal help for Liu's family.

According to media reports, Liu is one of six former Tencent employees who are being held by Chinese authorities as part of a bribery investigation following an internal company probe at Tencent.

"An internal investigation brought to light bribery and corruption among some online video employees. The police have been notified and we are waiting for the results," Tencent said in a statement Thursday.

Liu was previously head of Tencent Video and left the Shenzhen-based company with other members of the video business following a leadership reshuffle two years ago. He joined Alibaba in August 2013.

The news come amid an anti-corruption drive by Beijing, that has resulted in officials at various levels of government, as well as company executives, being taken into custody.

In Hong Kong, shares of both internet behemoths appeared unaffected by the news. Alibaba Pictures rose 7.3 percent, while Tencent advanced 2.3 percent near midday.

— Reuters and CNBC's Haze Fan contributed to this report.