Wang Zongnan, 59, who was formerly chairman of Bright Foods, was named by prosecutors as being at the centre of the investigation.
Bright owns a majority shares in New Zealand dairy producer Synlait, Australia’s Manassen Foods, British breakfast cereals manufacturer Weetabix and Israeli dairy company Tnuva. There is no suggestion that the company has been implicated in the inquiry.
The offences allegedly took place while Wang was general manager of Shanghai Friendship Group and Lianhua Supermarket, according to the Shanghai People's Procuratorate. He held the top position at SFG from 2000 to 2006, and headed Lianhua between 2003 and 2006.
A former Communist Party deputy chief for Shanghai’s Huangpu district, Wang has also been president of Bailian Group, a major retailing company. He stepped down from Bright last November, citing health reasons.
This is the latest move by officials under Chinese president Xi Jianping’s drive to expose corrupt officials from state-owned companies. Earlier investigations were launched against executives at China Resources Holdings and PetroChina.