Wed, Nov 01, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Low-level Chinese official siphons off millions to gamble

AFP , BEIJING

A low-level government official in China siphoned off more than 100 million yuan (US$11.25 million) in public funds, but lost nearly the same amount gambling, state media said yesterday.

Li Weimin's (李為民) activities made him one of the richest government employees in Guangdong Province despite the fact that he earned less than 5,000 yuan a year as a township chief, the China Daily said.

He is accused of helping himself to more than 100 million yuan of city funds, as well as taking bribes in exchange for granting developers land use rights and approving government loans to private companies.

Li and his wife, Huang Caifeng (黃彩鳳), owned 30 apartments valued at more than 100 million yuan.

Prosecutors were said to be "shocked" at the "vast" sums stolen, it added.

But Li, 43, lost at least 90 million yuan in overseas casinos between 2001 and 2004, including four million yuan in a Macau casino in a single night, a report by CCTV said.

Li visited Hong Kong and Macau 257 times between 2001 and 2004 to gamble, it said. He visited Macau 67 times in 2004 alone.

"His personal record was paying 17 visits to Macau's casinos in a month, including five times in one week," the China Daily said.

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