September 29, 2005

China audit finds rampant government corruption

BEIJING (Reuters) - An investigation by China's state
auditors released on Thursday has found rampant financial
irregularities throughout government and said corruption in
public administration is widespread.

The report found budget mismanagement in no less than 32
government ministries and departments, and was equally critical
of the Finance Ministry and the National Development and Reform
Commission, the two main bodies that disseminate cash.

Chinese leaders have said the government faces
self-destruction is it fails to crack down on corruption but it
remains a problem both for government and private business
despite periodic clean-up campaigns.

"If the problems found by the auditors can't be solved,
people will be disappointed and the audit administration will
lose its authority," Qin Rongsheng, deputy director of China's
Audit Research Association, was quoted as saying in the report
carried in domestic media.

"It is hard to do the audits, but it is more difficult to
get the problems solved," he said.

The report found some ministries overstated charges, hid
income in secret accounts and managed to evade higher-level

Among the abuses, the National Sports Administration
collected 24 million yuan in sponsorship funds which were never
paid out and departments under the Ministry of Education levied
false charges to the tune of 154 million yuan.

As the report was released, China was hosting a regional
anti-corruption conference, at which officials said they
supported greater participation in international initiatives in
order to combat graft.

"Against a backdrop of growing globalization and
regionalization, increased international cooperation in the
fight against corruption is urgently needed," the China Daily
newspaper quoted State Council member Hua Jianmin as saying.

More than 4,000 corrupt officials have fled abroad in
recent years, taking with them about 5 billion yuan in illicit
funds, state media have reported.

Little of the money has been recovered.