Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 6 News List

China’s audit office finds hundreds of serious graft cases

AFP, BEIJING

Chinese government funds have been misused to buy French vineyards, pay for a trip to Las Vegas and more, the National Audit Office said in a report revealing more than 300 serious corruption cases.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) launched a widely publicized antigraft campaign after taking over as Chinese Communist Party chief in 2012, but critics say no systemic reforms have been brought in to prevent corruption.

Two companies in the northeastern port of Dalian were granted 268 million yuan (US$43 million) by local authorities last year to buy overseas technology, but instead purchased 14 vineyards in France, the state auditor said in its annual report.

Haichang Group, one of the firms named in the report, is the biggest Chinese owner of Bordeaux vineyards, with more than 10 estates, including Chateau Chenu-Lafitte, according to French media reports.

Chinese investors have been among the biggest buyers of French wineries in recent years, prompting concerns that were highlighted by a report last year by Paris’ money-laundering investigators Tracfin calling for “increased vigilance” on such deals.

The office said a total of 314 cases where “major violation of laws and disciplines” was suspected, involving more than 1,100 people, had been “uncovered and transferred” to investigators.

The 2012 report had 175 such cases, it added in the document, submitted on Tuesday to the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature.

China Geological Survey officials spent three days in Las Vegas, Nevada, during a trip to North America meant to study shale gas technology, and later claimed they were working in Canada at the time, the state auditor said.

A tour of high-ranking officials organized by the State Oceanic Administration in 2012 to a Chinese research station in Antarctica spent half the travel time in France and Chile, it added.

Mismanagement of state assets was rife, the office said.

An investigation into China National Cotton Reserves Corp found that the company leased out some of its storage spaces while millions of tonnes of cotton were left out in the open air.

Some executives of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s top oil producer, “colluded with private companies or individuals to pursue personal gains” in deals such as asset acquisitions and sales, causing “grave losses to state interests,” it said.

Bribe-taking methods have become more covert, with offenders appointing brokers to receive kickbacks or exchanging flavors for benefits such as shares and not cashing in until they retire, it said.

“Some invested part of their illegal gains in public welfare undertakings to build a virtuous image or pursue political status,” the office said.

This story has been viewed 1537 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top