Record levels of embezzled funds recovered
Chow Chung-yan in Beijing
Courts handled 445 cases of national significance last year
Intensified efforts against corrupt officials on the run resulted in record levels of state funds being recovered last year, according to reports by the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate.
The procuratorate tracked down 703 corrupt officials last year. This was 14.5 per cent higher than the previous year. The investigations helped in the recovery of 7.4 billion yuan of state funds, a 62.9 per cent increase over 2004.
Mainland courts handled 445 important cases of national significance last year, up 11.25 per cent over the previous year. These included large-scale smuggling, drug trafficking, financial fraud and official corruption cases.
The courts heard 24,277 corruption cases concerning officials - about the same number as in 2004. Six ministerial-level officials and 1,932 county level officials were convicted for corruption, bribery or abuse of power.
This number, however, is a fraction of those investigated and charged by the procuratorate. It investigated 41,447 civil servants last year for corruption, including 8,490 involved in taking bribes exceeding 100,000 yuan, or embezzling state funds of more than 1 million yuan. Of the 41,447 cases, charges were pressed against 30,205.
According to the procuratorate, eight ministerial-level officials were among the 2,799 officials above the county level investigated last year. It also probed 9,117 employees of state-owned enterprises and 1,993 grass-roots cadres at the village level.
The investigators have focused on investigating financial irregularities in education, health care, finance and construction, as these were of the greatest concern to the public.
The overall crime figure was a mild increase over 2004. The courts handled 683,997 cases, with 844,717 people sentenced - up 6.17 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. Criminal cases involving fake or sub-quality products and commercial fraud numbered 15,082, with 20,509 people being sentenced in a year riddled with high-profile scandals involving poor quality products.
Nationwide, 131,869 people were sentenced to at least five years in prison, with an unspecified number given life or the death penalty.
The president of the Supreme People's Court, Xiao Yang, and Procurator-General Jia Chunwang will present their work reports to the NPC today.
Both Mr Xiao and Mr Jia are expected to highlight the need to improve the quality of law-enforcement officers and legal procedures in the coming year.
Mr Xiao said the courts would strengthen their work in the rural areas and in intellectual property rights infringement, to comply with the national strategy of boosting the countryside economy and developing innovative industries.
'We will increase our efforts to protect rural residents' legal interests to ensure a healthy growth for the agricultural sector and help build the new socialist countryside,' he said.