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Cases involving misuse of poverty relief funds rising

By Zhang Yan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-16 07:45

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

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 anti-corruption 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.

Cases involving misuse of poverty relief funds rising

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.

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