Public called on to report officials with mine shares

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2005, 12:00am

Shanxi administration raises rewards to 50,000 yuan as amnesty deadline looms

With a State Council amnesty due to expire today, provincial governments are encouraging citizens to report officials who still have investments in coal mines.

The State Council issued an ultimatum on August 22 ordering all government officials to withdraw their stakes in coal mines within a month or face dismissal.

The ultimatum came after a flood that month at the Daxing Colliery in Meizhou , Guangdong, left 123 workers dead.

A top-level investigation led by the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection revealed that many local government officials held shares in the operation, raising suspicions of collusion between public servants and the mine owners.

A spokesman for the Shanxi Administration of Work Safety in Taiyuan city yesterday said no government officials had surrendered investments in coal mines.

'And if you want to know whether citizens have reported anyone for keeping investments in coal mines, I am sorry but I can't tell you because it's top secret,' he said.

According to Taiyuan's Sanjin Metropolis News, the provincial government on Tuesday raised rewards for citizens reporting officials who held mine shares from 1,000 yuan to as much as 50,000 yuan per case.

In Guangdong - where government leaders have been the most vocal about their determination to crack down on collusion between mine owners and officials - little information has been published on how many officials have surrendered their shares or whether citizens have lodged reports.

Guangdong authorities announced last month that they would close down the entire coal mining industry in the province.

The Hunan provincial government has also encouraged confidential reports from the public after the most recent case of collusion between officials and coal mine bosses was exposed by a citizen.

A total of 32 cadres in Loudi city , including the head of the local mine safety bureau and the deputy head of Xinhua county, were found to have shares worth more than 1.5 million yuan in two coal mines, the Xiaoxiang Morning Post reported yesterday.

Four of the cadres were dismissed for taking bribes, while the others were allowed to retain their posts because they had withdrawn their shares before the deadline.

The report said Kang Jianguo , the owner of the two mines, was a mine safety inspector previously considered a model worker. He was in jail awaiting trial.

Kang, whose mines earned more than 10 million yuan in 2003, destroyed office records to avoid paying tax, the newspaper said.

Between August 2003 and December 2004, there were a total of six accidents and six deaths in Kang's mines, which he allegedly paid local officials and police to ignore.

A confidential letter to the Loudi municipal government office led to an investigation and Kang's arrest.