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Corrupt official steals Three Gorges' cash
By Guo Nei (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-05 05:30

An official who stole 2.81 million yuan (US$350,000) of the Three Gorges Reservoir Project resettlement fund has been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve.

Du Jiang was convicted of pocketing the money when he was in charge of land acquisition work between December 1998 and May 2004, according to a Xinhua report on Friday.

He was the boss of the farmland protection section of the Land Resources Bureau in Wushan County, Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

Another 1.79 million yuan (US$ 220,000) of the fund was taken by associates.

Du was deprived of his political rights and stripped of all property, according to the No 2 Intermediate People's Court of Chongqing.

Six local farmers in collusion with him received sentences with terms varying from two-and-a-half months to life, the Xinhua report said.

The case is said to be the biggest corruption case of its kind involving the reservoir project, the world's biggest hydroelectric scheme, which began in 1993.

So far, the amount of money put aside to compensate displaced residents has reached 45.3 billion yuan (US$5.59 billion), said officials from the Three Gorges Construction Committee.

Xia Kailiang, deputy director of the committee's supervision office, admitted corruption has occurred in the project, especially in the management of the relocation fund, but he insisted "corruption and funds' embezzlement has been minimal" compared to the huge amount of investment.

"And we have found that towns and villages, the lower management levels of the resettlement fund, are most vulnerable to corruption," he was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

By the end of last year, 327 cases regarding the management of the resettlement fund had been discovered, with 369 suspects and 55.79 million yuan (US$6.89 million) involved. About 86 per cent of the money siphoned off has been recovered, according to committee officials.

Supervision of the huge construction and relocation funds and their auditing have been beefed up to weed out corruption and a transparent system has been established, especially in the lower ranks of management, Xia told Xinhua.

(China Daily 12/05/2005 page3)

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