$948-m bungling in China realty

Written by Press Trust of India | Beijing | Updated: Aug 11 2013, 07:43am hrs
A whopping $948 million were embezzled from the state-run affordable housing projects in China, making it one of the biggest scams in recent times.

Nearly 5.8 billion yuan ($948 million) was embezzled last year from state funds for affordable housing, involving 360 projects and organisations, Chinas top auditing authority said. The money was used to pay back loans, to invest or ensure cash flow, the National Audit Office said in its annual audit report on affordable housing projects for 2012.

The $948 million stolen from funds were allotted for affordable housing, state-run China Daily reported. The news came as the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) expelled deputy chief of top planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission, Liu Tienan and removed from public office for graft ahead of his trial.

He was found to have taken advantage of his position to seek profits for others, and both Liu and his family accepted huge amount of money and property, the CPC said.

Last month, former railway minister, Liu Zhijun, who was accused of taking bribe over $10 million was given suspended death sentence.

The scam in the housing units came to light in a nationwide audit in which 20,000 auditors took part from November last to March this year, covering 391 cities and 2,546 counties.

They checked 34,200 affordable housing projects, 26,400 government organisations and companies as well as 2,48,500 households.

They found that more than 4,01,000 sq m of space for affordable housing in 12 projects was used for commercial property development and 1.10 lakh families produced false documents to qualify for assistance unfairly, the office said.

About 18,300 affordable housing apartments, which, according to state policy, should be reserved for people on low incomes, were sold by 34 construction companies on the market with much higher price tags to make profits, while nearly 5,400 apartments were used in contravention of government rules, auditors said.

Of the 7.6 million affordable housing units being built last year, 4.5 million have been completed, benefiting 26.7 million people from 9.5 million families.