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China graft watchdog probes another executive at Chinese car maker

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[August 30, 2014]  BEIJING (Reuters) - China's anti-graft watchdog has said it is investigating a former senior executive at FAW Group Corp. for corruption, the latest target in a widening probe against the company.

State-owned FAW has a joint venture with Volkswagen AG. The joint venture is one of the two car-making ventures the German automaker has in China.

An Dewu, FAW's former deputy general manager, was investigated for "suspected serious violations of the law", the ruling Chinese Communist Party's discipline watchdog said late on Friday.

The brief report did not give any details of the investigation. In China, the term "serious violations of the law" can be used to denote corruption. It was not possible to contact An or any of his representatives.

Officials at FAW could not be reached for comment. Li Pengcheng, a spokesman for FAW-Volkswagen, said he "does not know" anything about the investigation and referred all queries to FAW.

The investigation into An was announced several days after China's corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said it was investigating another former and one current executive at the company for "seriously violating the law".

Volkswagen's luxury brand Audi and other foreign brands like Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and Fiat SpA's Chrysler have been under investigation in China over their pricing practices as Beijing steps up enforcement of its anti-monopoly laws.

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Earlier this month, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's price regulator, said it would punish Audi and Chrysler for monopoly practices.

It was not immediately clear if the two probes were related.

Separately, the party's corruption watchdog said late on Friday it is also investigating Ren Runhou, the vice governor of northern Shanxi province, for "suspected serious violations of the law". Ren is the latest target amid an intensifying crackdown on graft in the province.

President Xi Jinping has said endemic corruption threatens the Communist Party's very survival and has vowed to go after high-flying "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Paul Tait)

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