In a significant move, Chinese tech giant Tencent has revealed that it dismissed over 120 employees last year for violating its anti-fraud rules, a list that includes cases of corruption and embezzlement. Tencent, a Hong Kong-listed company, stands as the world’s leading video game maker and is the proprietor of the widely used super-app WeChat, installed on nearly every mobile device in the country.
The company’s founder, Pony Ma, expressed shock at the level of corruption within Tencent in 2022, prompting the company to pledge corrective action, as reported by state media. Last year, Tencent reported more than 70 breaches of its code of conduct, resulting in the dismissal of over 120 individuals from the company. Additionally, nearly 20 cases were reported to the authorities, according to a statement released by Tencent on Friday.
The affected employees spanned various branches of Tencent, with some belonging to the PCG branch responsible for broadcasting content like news, sports, and films. Others were part of Tencent’s medical services arm, an area where the company’s telemedicine applications hold a substantial market share in China.
Tencent disclosed that one of the implicated employees has been sentenced to four years in prison and fined 100,000 yuan ($14,000), underscoring the severity of the consequences for fraudulent activities within the company.
These announcements come against the backdrop of ongoing challenges for China’s tech giants. After experiencing meteoric growth, the sector faced a broad regulatory crackdown by Chinese authorities starting in late 2020. This has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars in market capitalization and a significant decline in the profits of prominent internet companies.
Tencent, which currently employs just over 100,000 individuals, has not been immune to these challenges. Restrictions in China on online gaming time for individuals under 18 have also impacted the company’s profitability. As a response, Tencent is actively seeking opportunities abroad, particularly in Europe, where it is bolstering its presence by acquiring stakes in major gaming studios. The company’s diversification strategy aims to navigate the evolving regulatory landscape in its home country and secure growth in international markets.