China’s anti-fraud watchdog has accused chip tycoon Zhao Weiguo of corruption, the latest sign of trouble for the country’s semiconductor industry.
Mr. Zhao is the former chairman of computer chip maker Tsinghua Unigroup.
Last year, key players in the industry were investigated for corruption after the government poured billions of dollars into failed or failed projects.
Mr Zhao and Tsinghua Unigroup did not respond to the BBC’s requests for comment.
In a statement, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection alleges that Mr. Zhao “turned the state-owned company he ran into his own fief.”
The regulator said it had entrusted profitable businesses to its relatives and friends, and purchased goods and services from businesses run by its associates at “high prices”. significantly more than the market”. Mr. Zhao’s case has been handed over to prosecutors, who will prosecute him, he added.
Tsinghua Unigroup used to be a branch of the prestigious Tsinghua University, once attended by President Xi Jinping.
Over the past decade, the state-backed company has made a series of acquisitions and has become one of China’s top chipmakers.
However, it has piled up debts under Mr. Zhao and defaulted on several bond payments in 2020.
The company completed a 20-month restructuring process last July. This puts it under the control of a consortium led by two state-backed venture capital firms.
At that time, Mr. Zhao resigned as chairman of Tsinghua Unigroup. Chinese media reported that he was taken from his home by authorities for investigation.
Several other top figures in China’s semiconductor industry have also been investigated.
Semiconductors, which power everything from cell phones to military hardware, are at the center of a bitter dispute between the United States and China. In October, Washington announced it would require licenses for companies exporting chips to China that use American tools or software, regardless of where in the world they are manufactured.
Earlier this month, the Netherlands announced that it also plans to impose restrictions on the export of “most advanced” microchip technology to protect national security.
China has invested billions of dollars in recent years to strengthen its domestic chip manufacturing capabilities.
In 2019, the country set up a new $29 billion (£23.7 billion) national semiconductor fund to reduce its reliance on the West.