TikTok owner ByteDance fires dozens of employees in anti-corruption drive

China’s internet giant ByteDance has fired 61 employees for offenses including bribery and leaking of internal company data.

Four individuals are under criminal investigation by China’s law enforcement authorities for their alleged crimes, the local media reported. These include two individuals who worked at Douyin, as TikTok is called in China.

One of them was detained in January for taking “substantial” bribes from external partners, while another was arrested in March for artificially inflating Douyin account activities to earn illegal income, according to Jiemian News.

ByteDance had since revoked their stock options and annual bonus eligibility, the report said.

Twenty four employees were additionally fired for using their positions to assist external parties in return for unspecified benefits. They have allegedly violated the company’s policies by submitting false expense reports, using unauthorised taxi services, and claiming housing subsidies among other fraudulent practices.

One employee was let go for lending their card to someone who did not work in the company. This external person used the card to eat in the company cafeteria 14 times and misappropriated ByteDance of 490 yuan ($67.67) as a result.

Six more individuals violated ByteDance’s conflict of interest policies, including one employee who hired “multiple” relatives to work with a service provider closely associated with their team.

Ten more people were fired for “unauthorized acquisition, storage, and disclosure of internal company information,” as well as allowing external individuals to use systems containing sensitive data.

This includes one employee who collaborated with a chief executive of an unnamed rival company to develop competing products.

Last year, ByteDance fired 136 people over fraud and handed 23 more to law enforcement authorities over suspected law violations. The TikTok owner said it had “zero tolerance” for corruption and bribery, and “strongly opposes all fraud and dishonesty.”

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