More funds missing
More than US$34.4 billion went missing from public funds in China in the first 11 months of the year, state media said yesterday, with national auditors highlighting embezzlement, waste and fraud. More than 230 people, including 67 government officials, have been handed over to disciplinary or judicial authorities for their roles in the missing funds, the China Daily said, citing the National Audit Office. The audit covered 99,000 companies, government agencies and public institutions across the nation, Liu Jiayi (劉家義), China’s top auditor, told a national auditing conference.
Economy grows 0.3 percent
The French economy grew 0.3 percent in the third quarter, the national statistics agency INSEE said yesterday, confirming estimates made last month. However, the government maintains that the economy will shrink by 2.25 percent for the year because of the deep recession that set in from late last year, even though France emerged from the slowdown in the second quarter of this year.
Donald Tsang pessimistic
Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) yesterday sounded a pessimistic note on the city’s economic recovery, warning it may experience a “double dip in the middle of next year.” Tsang said from Beijing that Hong Kong’s economic recovery “would not proceed smoothly, and I am prepared,” Dow Jones said. “I am a bit pessimistic about the pace of recovery and we may experience a double dip in the middle of next year,” Tsang said. However, he said the city’s government had a reserve of HK$500 billion (US$64 billion), which was “enough for two years worth of expenses,” RTHK reported.
Banker sentenced to prison
A court in Spain sentenced the chief executive of the country’s biggest bank, Santander, to six months in prison on Monday for making false accusations against clients 15 years ago. The court found Alfredo Saenz carried out the deception when he was head of Santander subsidiary Banesto. Banesto has said it will appeal the sentence. Saenz is not however expected to serve any time in prison as he has no prior convictions.
Account surplus continues
South Korea recorded an account surplus for the 10th straight month last month thanks partly to brisk exports, the central bank said yesterday. The surplus was US$4.28 billion last month, down from a revised US$4.76 billion in October, the Bank of Korea said in a statement. In the first 11 months of this year the accumulated surplus amounted to a record high of US$41.2 billion. The current account, the broadest measure of trade with the world, has remained in surplus since February as imports have fallen faster than exports amid the global downturn.
Court clears ex-officials
An appeals court yesterday cleared two former South Korean officials of charges they helped private equity firm Lone Star buy a shaky local bank on the cheap in 2003, clearing the way for the buyout group to sell the lender. The court upheld a ruling last year that cleared former finance ministry official Byeon Yang-ho and former Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) chief Lee Kang-won of breach of trust charges. It was alleged they conspired to understate KEB’s value.