China says billions missing from public funds

After a nationwide audit, a national auditor has said that Chinese officials stole or misused a staggering $34.40 billion this year

State company czars and other top officials in China have been found to have indulged in luxuries like buying fancy cars and other consumer durables at state expense, reports PTI.

The country's national auditor is saying that officials stole or misused a staggering $34.40 billion this year after a nationwide audit was conducted, official news agency Xinhua reported.

But now the authorities are coming down hard on corruption. Over 1,068 people including government officials have been handed over to disciplinary or judicial authorities for their roles in the missing funds, the agency said.

"Embezzlement, waste of money and false fiscal reporting still existed in central departments, despite some improvements," Xinhua quoted Liu Jiayi, the country's chief auditor, as saying at a conference.

With such a huge amount going missing from public funds, an alarmed prime minister Wen Jiabao told auditors to crack down hard on embezzlers.

Misconduct included unauthorised purchase of cars and other consumer durables by government officials and agencies, Liu said at the conference.

He said investigators recovered 16.3 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) following the audit which covered 99,000 companies, government agencies and public institutions across the nation.

The auditor said, "We should enhance awareness among officials of the stiff anti-embezzlement laws and set up a clear accountability system."

China announced its firm resolve last year to crack down hard on corruption as it launched a 4 trillion yuan stimulus package to halt a sharp drop in exports.

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