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Finance official arrested on bribe charge
By Wu Ting Ting (chinadaily.com.cn/Xinhua)
Updated: 2005-07-05 17:25

A senior Finance Ministry official was arrested Monday, July 4 in Beijing on charge of corruption involving at least 50,000 yuan (about US$ 6,000).

The arrest of Xu Fangming, director of the ministry's Finance Department, was officially approved by the First Branch of Beijing People's Procuratorate. The anti-corruption special team has sufficient evidence to charge Xu with at least 50,000 yuan bribery taken, reported the Beijing Times on Tuesday.

Clues were found and Xu's case was initiated during the investigation Hu Chushou, a former vice president of the Agricultural Development Bank of China, who was arrested last year on graft charges. The Beijing Anti-corruption Department set up a special team to investigate Xu's case.

It was believed that Xu's case involved more than a million yuan. However, based on the documents sent to the prosecution department, the alleged amount involved is only 50,000 yuan.

However, the prosecution department said investigation is still going on, the alleged 50,000 yuan of bribes taken could be backed with sufficient evidence. This means the total amount of bribes can be more than that but is still unsure now.

The Public Relation Department of the ministry's Finance Department said Xu's job would be taken over by the vice director, Xun Xiao, temporarily. Yet, this has not been officially endorsed by the ministry.

Xu was a prominent person in the finance ministry. He was also one of the seven members of the Central Huijin Investment Company, the biggest shareholder of two state banks -- the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank.

A finance ministry official told another local newspaper, China Business, that Xu was found to "have embezzled public funds of more than 1.3 million yuan (about 157,000 US dollars)", and his illegal private assets "have been sealed up".

An unidentified source with close ties to the financial ministry told China Business that Xu was likely to be accused of malpractice, as he was in charge of the state-owned asset management of financial organizations. "Xu's case is likely to involve foreign investment business transactions, since his power also included the managing outward loans and the purchase of foreign products."

Another collegue of Xu recalled that this 47-year man gave people a "very good impression" when he first entered the ministry 23 years ago right after graduating from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. "His performance at work was outstanding," the collegue said. In 1998 when reform was carried out in the ministry of Finance, Xu distinguished himself and later became the director of the Finance Department in 2000.

"He was then only 43 years or so, and seen as a rising power with a bright future," said his collegues.

Xu also taught macro-economic control and governmental policies to post- graduates at the Institute of Financial Sciences. "Several weeks of his courses were not finished yet," a staff member with the institute said. According to China Business, Xu is the highest ranking official implicated in corruption in the investigation by China's National Audit Office that targeted the ministry of Finance.

Since the finance department represents the central government as the biggest shareholder in state banks, asset management companies and securities companies, Xu wielded considerable power. He was also on the seven-member board of the Central Huijin Investment company that holds the government's majority stakes in the four major state banks.

A report on the performance of the central budget in 2004 said that Chinese auditors found misuse of funds totaling 9.06 billion yuan (about 110 million US dollars) in 38 government departments in 2004. The figure represented six percent of all the funds put under audit.

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