Baidu’s Vice President Li Mingyuan or Eric Li handed in his resignation letter after allegations of improper financial dealings surfaced. The news was circulated in a staff memo by Baidu’s ethics committee on Nov. 4.
The allegations range from large financial transactions with the member of a company that was acquired by Baidu, a deal that Li was involved with, to improper financial dealings with partnering gaming firms of the Baidu division that Li was managing. Li was also accused of not disclosing his stake in several gaming companies with businesses relating to Baidu.
According to the leaked staff memo, Eric Li has breached the Baidu Prevention of Conflicts of Interest Code and other ethics standards. He admitted wrongdoing and promptly handed in his resignation letter but denied that he was involved in bribery.
“I was not involved in any bribery,” Li said in a statement posted to social media. “As a senior executive, there are a lot of things that one must refrain to prevent risk and inherent issues. I have not done enough in this aspect.”
Before the fall from grace, Li was a well-regarded member of the E-staff team, the Baidu’s senior management. He joined Baidu as an intern in 2004 and quickly rose through the ranks. Three years ago at age 29, he was made the youngest-ever Vice President by Baidu CEO Li Yanhong or Robin Li, resulting in the nickname “taizi” or “crown prince”.
Eric Li’s resignation is the latest ethical scandal to hit the Chinese search engine giant. In April this year, Shaanxi university student Wei succumbed to cancer, but not before spending over RMB200,000 on an unconventional therapy that he found through searching on Baidu. The listing was promoted by Baidu and placed at the top of search results, leading Wei to click into the listing. Many criticized Baidu’s paid search placement and as a result, measures were implemented to change the way that paid medical search results are displayed.
Image credit: Baidu