Former Executive of Chinese Online Video Giant Youku Tudou Detained on Corruption Charges

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Lu Fanxi served as vice president of peer-generated content at the online video giant until July, shortly before the company was bought by Alibaba Group for $4.8 billion.

China's ongoing anti-corruption campaign has swept up a former top executive of Youku Tudou, the giant online video service recently acquired by Alibaba Group for $4.8 billion.

Lu Fanxi served as vice president of peer-generated content at Youku Tudou until last August.

An internal memo sent to employees by Heyi Film, Youku’s fledgling film studio, says Lu was detained by Chinese authorities after a company audit discovered "reasons for serious suspicion surrounding several production projects."

The letter, which has been widely circulated in the Chinese media, continues: "From the information we have now, we know that former employee Lu Fanxi is suspected of exploiting his position to undertake illegal, criminal activities."

The statement adds that Lu was taken in by the authorities to "assist with an investigation," a euphemism commonly used in China when individuals are detained on corruption allegations.

At Youku, Lu developed a reputation for producing viral video content, such as the Chinese pop hit "Little Apple" by Chopstick Brothers. The song was inescapable meme fodder in the summer of 2014 and even used by the People's Liberation Army in a recruitment video.

A person with knowledge of Lu's case told the Financial Times that the former exec is believed to have colluded with contracting companies for kickbacks.

Lu's case fits into a pattern of arrests associated with the ongoing corruption crackdown initiated by Chinese president Xi Jinping two years ago. Dozens of prominent business leaders have been swept up in the campaign, as well as hundreds of Communist Party officials at all levels of government.

Last month, Alibaba Pictures, the rapidly expanding film arm of Alibaba Group, ousted Liu Chunning, a senior member of its board of directors, after the executive's entanglement in a corruption investigation last summer. The charges against Liu were related to his time at rival Chinese Internet giant Tencent, where, like Lu, he was in charge of online video content. Both execs were detained amid internal audits.


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