Prepaid card rules a swipe at corruption

10:30, May 26, 2011      

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People purchasing large amounts of prepaid cards will soon have to reveal their real names.

The latest move is aimed at preventing money laundering, tax evasion and bribery, according to an official document published by the State Council, China's Cabinet, on its website on Wednesday.

Issuers of prepaid cards should register customers' identities if they purchase at least 10,000 yuan (1,500 U.S. dollars) in cards, or if the prepaid cards carry the names of the people who will use them.

In addition, the value of anonymous cards should be below 1,000 yuan, while cards bearing the names of their users should not surpass 5,000 yuan.

At the end of 2009, a combined 1.1 trillion yuan worth of prepaid cards were circulating in China, with a stored value totaling nearly 40 billion yuan, according to a report filed in July 2010 by China Union Loyalty Co Ltd, a Shanghai-based provider of prepaid cards.

Loose regulations had given rise to corrupt practices as well as disrupted the order of financial and tax rules, said the official document.

"Officials usually feel less guilty when they take bribes in the form of prepaid cards instead of cash," said Lin Zhe, a professor and anti-corruption expert with the Party School of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China.

"That's the reason why people choose to offer bribes with prepaid cards."

But accepting prepaid cards or gift certificates will be regarded as equivalent to taking bribes in cash, according to a Party document published early this month by the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection, the Party's top anti-corruption watchdog.

Du Hongmiao, former head of a local taxation bureau in Shengzhou city of East China's Zhejiang province, was found guilty in 2009 of accepting more than 200,000 yuan of gift certificates as well as a luxury watch in bribes.

In 2006, Hao Heping, a former senior official with the State Food and Drug Administration, was convicted of taking bribes including three golf club membership cards worth more than 500,0000 yuan.

In addition, the People's Bank of China, China's central bank, and the Ministry of Commerce will launch an inspection on all prepaid cards circulating in the country by the end of this year, said the document.

Source: China Daily
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