By Michael Evans
State-owned oil giant Sinopec is investigating claims that a top female executive was provided sexual favors as a bribe from a US supplier.
The accusations against the official at Sinopec’s subsidiary China Petrochemical International, identified only by her surname Zhang, were made in an online post earlier this week, which authorities say has since been deleted.
The post claimed the US high-tech company Agilent Technologies provided Zhang with two African male prostitutes at an exclusive club in Beijing. The company then used the photos to blackmail Zhang into helping them win a contract to provide machinery for a petrochemical plant in Wuhan.
Photos purporting to show Zhang together with the male escorts were also included in the post, and have been widely spread in recent days.
Zhang has denied the accusations, saying that she will “definitely pursue legal actions against those vicious slanders.”
In a statement posted on its official Weibo on Thursday, Sinopec claimed that the photos were in fact recycled from a Shenzhen news site’s 2007 article on the “secret life” of the city’s male prostitutes.
Sinopec is currently investigating the matter, which has been dubbed “African gigolo-gate” by the media, and has pledged to make the results open to the public, according to the Global Times.