Cases in­volv­ing mis­use of poverty re­lief funds ris­ing

Be­tween Jan­uary and Oc­to­ber, 8,888 of­fi­cials were in­ves­ti­gated for al­leged cor­rup­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YAN zhangyan1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A ris­ing num­ber of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have been placed un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for al­leged mis­use and em­bez­zle­ment of poverty re­lief funds, the Supreme Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate said on Thursday.

Statis­tics re­leased by the SPP show that, be­tween Jan­uary and Oc­to­ber, na­tional pros­e­cut­ing de­part­ments in­ves­ti­gated 1,623 gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials re­lat­ing to crimes in­volv­ing poverty re­lief funds, a 94.6 per­cent in­crease com­pared with the same pe­riod last year.

“Su­per­vi­sion loop­holes and ef­forts to crack­down on such il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity have con­trib­uted to the sharp in­crease in such crimes,” said Song Han­song, di­rec­tor of the SPP’s No 4 an­ti­cor­rup­tion and bribery bureau.

He said most of the sus­pects are grass­roots of­fi­cials, such as direc­tors and ac­coun­tants at the county, vil­lage and town­ship lev­els, who al­legedly abused their power to with­hold or em­bez­zle funds, or fab­ri­cate doc­u­ments to falsely claim such funds.

One such case was un­cov­ered in May, when a lo­cal vil­lage Party chief in Fan county, He­nan prov­ince, was in­ves­ti­gated for al­leged graft.

When serv­ing as the vil­lage head, he abused his power, us­ing names of his fam­ily mem­bers to falsely claim sub­si­dies to­tal­ing 180,000 yuan ($26,470) for re­turn­ing farm­land to forests, ac­cord­ing to the SPP.

Song said grass­roots of­fi­cials also abused their po­si­tions to gain ben­e­fits for others re­lat­ing to the ap­proval and al­lo­ca­tion of poverty re­lief funds, ac­cept­ing bribes in the process.

Ac­cord­ing to the SPP, be­tween Jan­uary and Oc­to­ber, 8,888 of­fi­cials were in­ves­ti­gated for al­leged cor­rup­tion, ac­count­ing for 65.7 per­cent of the to­tal of ex­posed duty-re­lated crimes.

In re­cent years, a large amount of poverty al­le­vi­a­tion fund­ing has been em­bez­zled or mis­used, se­ri­ously harm­ing pub­lic in­ter­ests and peo­ple’s le­git­i­mate rights. It has also re­sulted in a se­ries of pe­ti­tion cases, which has af­fected so­cial har­mony and sta­bil­ity.

Song said of­fi­cials deal­ing with poverty al­le­vi­a­tion, vil­lage of­fi­cials and ap­pli­cants of­ten col­lude with each other to em­bez­zle and mis­ap­pro­pri­ate State sub­si­dies and spe­cial fund­ing.

“We will try our best to se­ri­ously pun­ish those who abuse their po­si­tions to em­bez­zle, with­hold, falsely claim or squan­der poverty re­lief funds,” said Cao Jianming, pros­e­cu­tor-gen­eral of the SPP.

In March, China ini­ti­ated a five-year spe­cial ac­tion to tar­get such crimes, en­sur­ing the poverty al­le­vi­a­tion pol­icy and spe­cial fund­ing will ben­e­fit poor peo­ple in poverty-stricken ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to the SPP.

The plan has been launched by the top pros­e­cut­ing depart­ment and the poverty re­lief of­fice un­der the State Coun­cil, it said.

Song said the SPP will su­per­vise the pros­e­cut­ing de­part­ments in key ar­eas to set up a database for col­lect­ing clues and share in­for­ma­tion with them in a timely man­ner.

In ad­di­tion, they will at­tach great im­por­tance to in­ves­ti­gat­ing graft cases that in­volve ex­port­ing la­bor ser­vices, eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and med­i­cal in­sur­ance, as well as min­i­mum ru­ral liv­ing al­lowances, he added.

Su­per­vi­sion loop­holes and ef­forts to crack­down on such il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity have con­trib­uted to the sharp in­crease in such crimes.”

Song Han­song, di­rec­tor of the bribery bureau

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