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$660m fund misused or embezzled
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09:23, August 28, 2008

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Central government departments and their subordinate units misused or embezzled about 4.52 billion yuan ($661.09 million) last year, for which 14 officials have been detained, the country's top auditor said yesterday.

A total of 88 people have been arrested, prosecuted or sentenced, and 104 people handed administrative punishments for the violations in 2007, Auditor-General Liu Jiayi said in his annual report to the national legislature.

More than 41.7 billion yuan ($6.09 billion) of central funds were mismanaged, too, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.

The NAO found 588 million yuan ($85.99 million) had been misused after auditing the accounts of 53 central government departments. And the audit of 368 subordinate units revealed the misuse of 3.93 billion yuan ($574.77 million).

The NAO has named 10 central departments, including the education and commerce ministries, the National Bureau of Statistics, State Administration of Taxation and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, as the violators.

The NAO noted "managerial irregularities" in the handling of 41.7 billion yuan by the departments and subordinate units.

In his report to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Liu said such departments and units squandered or wasted another 171 million yuan ($24.99 million).

Misused funds in 2005 and 2006 amounted to 5.51 billion yuan ($805.73 million) and 7 billion yuan ($1.02 billion), the NAO said. But about $4.2 billion yuan ($614.17 million) of the funds misused in 2006 has been retrieved.

Investigations into land use fees in 11 cities, including Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, last year showed 8.4 billion yuan ($1.22 billion) had been misused, while audit of 25 railway construction projects revealed 1.4 billion yuan ($204.72 million) "problematic funds".

Auditors in 133 cities found 2 billion yuan ($292.46 million) had been misappropriated from housing funds, and 2.2 billion yuan ($321.72 million) had been loaned out improperly.

Audit of nine financial institutions, including the Agricultural Bank of China, showed 14.2 billion yuan ($2.07 billion) had been used illegally, the report said, and about 140 suspects from these institutions were handed over to judicial departments.

Though central government departments have become more adept at handling budgets, more steps need to be taken to better manage allocations, Liu said.

Liu assumed the auditor-general's post in March and this is his first report to the NPC Standing Committee. He succeeded Li Jinhua, known for his courage in revealing the government departments' fund mismanagement and raising an "audit storm" every year since 1999.

Source:China Daily

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