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US$5m quake relief funds embezzled
Updated: 2005-05-10 12:38

A total of 41.11 million yuan (4.95 million US dollars) allocated by southwest China's Yunnan Province for earthquake relief projects had been embezzled, according to an official audit report released recently.

The report made by the National Audit Office said a total of 366.62 million yuan (44.2 million dollars) had been collected for Dayao County, Yunnan Province, after it was hit by two quakes measuring 6.1 and 6.2 on the Richter scale in 2003. Of this amount 41.11 million yuan had been embezzled or misused by local officials.

Villagers cry after the quake hit the Dayao county, southwest Yunnan Province July 23, 2003. [newsphoto/file]
The scandal was revealed after a thorough check of the accounts related to the disaster relief work in 2004 which found 12 local authorities of different levels and hundreds of local officials may have been involved in the scandal.

Financial, civil affairs, construction, education and health departments of local governments from provincial to township level all took part, according to the report.

For example, the report said, the state-owned Caohai Farm in Yaoan County had misappropriated 17.48 million yuan (2.11 million dollars) to pay compensations for land requisition and the civil affairs bureau of Binchuan County had taken 1.5 million yuan (181,600 dollars) to erect a governmental building.

Meanwhile, two local hospitals had respectively misused 250,000 yuan (30,200 dollars) of relief funds to build dorms.

Two financial bureaus of Mouding and Yaoan counties had embezzled 5.65 and 3.5 million yuan (684,000 and 423,000 US dollars) to balance the budgets in 2003, said the report.

Auditors also found 51.74 million yuan (6.26 million dollars) of disaster subsidy funds were not distributed to the locals in time and 8.68 million yuan (1.05 million dollars) of relief funds given on a false basis.

To date, local governments have been looking into the scandals. For example, 48 officials from the Chuxiong Prefecture had been given administrative penalties, said the report.

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