BEIJING (Reuters) – China has sentenced a company official to five and a half years in jail for leaking economic data, the Beijing News reported on Friday, the latest move in a crackdown on the unauthorised release of market-moving numbers.
Beijing’s first intermediate people’s court had charged Wu Zhiwen, former general manager of Beijing-based Jinmailong Asset Management Co., for “illegally obtaining state secrets”, the state-run newspaper said.
The court charged that Wu had received 19 items of economic numbers prior to the official release from Wu Chaoming, a researcher at the People’s Bank of China, between January and December 2010, according to the report.
Wu, who had also obtained some economic numbers from another person surnamed Li, leaked the data to 13 others via mobile phone messages, the newspaper said.
Wu appealed to the court, arguing that he did not know the data, which included gross domestic product (GDP), consumer price index (CPI), industrial output and fixed-asset investment, was state secrets, it added.
Wu, the central bank researcher, was jailed for six years in 2011 for leaking 25 items to 15 employees of the securities industry.
Both Wus graduated from China’s Nankai University.
Economic data is usually market-sensitive information and the figures are routinely leaked before their official release, sometimes circulating among investors days before they are announced by the government.
Sun Zhen, a senior secretary at the National Bureau of Statistics, was jailed last year for leaking statistical figures.
The government has vowed to crack down on data leaks to protect its credibility. Its harsh crackdown on the unauthorised data release appears to be deterring such activities but it remains to be seen if such efforts could be sustained.
The statistical bureau has sought to release its regular data as early as possible to reduce the opportunities for such leaks.
For example, it has narrowed the time between when it collects the data for sensitive economic indicators such as consumer and producer prices and when it makes the data public.
(Reporting by China economics team; editing by Jason Subler and Don Durfee)