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HONG KONG — Rui Chenggang, one of the top anchors on China Central Television (CCTV), was dramatically detained by prosecutors as part of the country’s growing anti-graft probe.

Rui was due to present the Friday edition of the popular “Economic News” show when he was taken away. The show went ahead, but producers left an empty chair where Rui shold have sat.

Li Yong, deputy director of CCTV’s financial news channel, and an unnamed producer were also taken away.

According to local news sources more than RMB1 million ($161,000) in cash were found in Li’s office by investigators. Li was due to accompany China’s president Xi Jinping on an imminent trip to Brazil.

The anti-corruption campaign led by President Xi has already hit CCTV. Advertising boss Guo Zhenxi and producer Tan Liwu were taken away for investigation last month. CCTV’s advertising contracts may also be connected to an earlier series of probes which saw senior executives from the media and entertainment industry called in.

The state-backed broadcasting giant, however, sees itself as a graft-buster.

In a highly unusual attack, CCTV on Wednesday accused Bank of China, one of the country’s largest state-backed banks, of money laundering and helping wealthy clients siphon cash out of the country.

The broadcaster screened covertly-filmed footage of bank staff in Guangdong coaching a journalist who was posing as a client on how to evade the country’s strict regulations which only allow $50,000 per year to be taken across borders. CCTV then alleged that the practise was offered on demand at other branches in Beijing, effectively labelling the whole bank as a money laundering institution.

Making CCTV’s attack all the more extraordinary, it came in the same week that the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, issued a new directive against investigative journalism. It banned media outlets from making critical reports against major government institutions without approval.

Both CCTV and Bank of China are designated as ‘central enterprises’ which are directly supervised by the State Council. Allegations against either normally requires approval in advance.

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