China / Government

Poverty funds facing stiffer supervision

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-24 08:30

Prosecuting authority expands efforts to stop embezzlement of money meant to help poor

China's top prosecuting authority said it will build on its recent success in the fight against corruption in poverty alleviation by setting up inspection stations in rural areas.

When poverty alleviation was highlighted by the country's central leadership in October and noted in China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), the fight against graft in this field became a priority for prosecuting bodies at all levels, Wang Songmiao, spokesman for the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said on Thursday.

From January to May, Chinese prosecutors investigated 658 people on suspicion of duty-related crimes, including graft and dereliction of duty, when they were meant to be helping the poor. That was a 53.7 percent year-on-year increase.

It was the first crackdown in a five-year plan for fighting and preventing corruption in the field of poverty alleviation, Wang said, adding that it was a joint effort between prosecutors and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

President Xi Jinping said in November that no one can spend poverty alleviation funds with impunity, because they are a lifeline for the poor.

"To implement the leadership's requirement and play a role in fighting duty crimes, we have pursued the campaign since January," Wang said, adding that similar crackdowns will continue until December 2020.

"We will go to villages in rural areas to research and investigate, build inspection stations and dispatch prosecutors as liaisons to get more clues to understand more about potential corruption problems," he said. "The move is intended to stop grassroots graft."

On Thursday, the top prosecuting authority also reviewed 13 cases in the poverty relief field.

For example, Dong Sheyou, former director of the poverty alleviation department in Wudu district, Longnan city, Gansu province, has been sentenced to 14 years in jail after using his post to provide illegal profits to 16 residents in developing a poverty relief project.

Dong also solicited 3.32 million yuan ($505,000) in bribes and held property valued at 8.91 million yuan. He could not explain where he got such a large sum of money.

Song Hansong, director of the No 4 Anti-corruption Department under the prosecuting authority, said people who possess or embezzle money that was intended for the poor will be severely punished under the latest judicial interpretation issued in April.

"People who embezzle 10,000 yuan will face a criminal penalty," Song said, noting that the threshold for corruption in other industries was 30,000 yuan.

He confirmed that graft in the field of poverty alleviation is most often perpetrated by officials at lower levels - "which is why we planned to set up the inspection stations in villages to ensure the poverty relief funds reach the poor", he said.

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