The anti-fraud watchdog in China has levelled allegations of corruption against chip tycoon Zhao Weiguo. This is the most recent indication that the Chinese semiconductor industry is experiencing difficulties.
Mr. Zhao served as the chairman of the board of directors at the computer chip manufacturer Tsinghua Unigroup.
The government invested billions of dollars into projects that either stalled out or failed, and as a result, key actors in the sector were investigated for possible instances of corruption last year.
The requests for comments made by the BBC were not answered by Mr. Zhao or Tsinghua Unigroup.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has issued a statement in which it makes the accusation that Mr. Zhao “took the state-owned company he managed as his private fiefdom.”
According to the regulatory agency, he transferred profitable businesses to his family members and friends and made purchases from businesses managed by his associates at “prices significantly higher than the market.”
It is also stated that Mr. Zhao’s case has been given to prosecutors, who will be the ones to file charges against him.
Tsinghua Unigroup was formerly a department of the illustrious Tsinghua University, which is the educational institution that President Xi Jinping attended.
The company, which is backed by the state, has become one of China’s leading chipmakers as a result of a series of acquisitions it has made over the past decade.
However, while Mr. Zhao was in charge of the company, it amassed a significant amount of debt and missed several bond payments in the year 2020.
The company finished reorganizing after a period of twenty months in July of last year. Because of this, it was placed under the control of a consortium that was led by two venture capital firms that received funding from the state.
Around the same time, Mr. Zhao quit as chairman of Tsinghua Unigroup. Several Chinese news outlets said that the government took him away from his home so that they could do an investigation.
Other prominent figures in the Chinese semiconductor industry have also been named as suspects in the investigation that has been launched.
Semiconductors, the power source for many different gadgets, including mobile phones and military equipment, are the subject of a fierce dispute between the US and China.
The United States government made the announcement in October that it would demand licences for companies who exported semiconductors to China using American equipment or software, regardless of where in the globe the chips were manufactured.
A statement made by the Netherlands earlier this month indicated that the country intended to follow suit and implement export controls on its “most advanced” microchip technology in order to preserve its national security.
Over the past several years, China has poured billions of dollars into the development of its domestic semiconductor manufacturing industry.
To lessen its dependency on the Western world, the nation established a new national semiconductor fund in 2019, allocating $29 billion (£23.7 billion).