China says Billions Missing from Public Funds

Over 230 people, including 67 government officials, have been handed over to disciplinary or judicial authorities for their roles in the missing funds.

Over $34.4 billion went missing from public funds in China in the first 11 months of 2009, state media said on Dec. 29, with national auditors highlighting embezzlement, waste and fraud.

Over 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, China's top auditor, told a national auditing conference.

Of the 234.7 billion yuan found missing in the audit, 16.3 billion yuan has already been recovered.

Premier Wen Jiabao told auditors at the conference to step up efforts to tackle corruption. China's state auditor has the power to review government accounts, but its lack of law enforcement powers means that many irregularities do not result in prosecutions.

Beijing vowed to curb corruption in November last year when it launched a four-trillion-yuan stimulus package to prop up economic growth amid a sharp drop in demand for exports due to the global financial crisis.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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