Red Cross admits it misused public funds
Amid a deepening credibility crisis over the Guo Meiling saga, the Red Cross Society of China has admitted it misused public funds but denied any corruption.
The society's executive deputy president, Wang Wei, said yesterday that it spent an extra 4.2 million yuan (HK$5.04 million) without authorisation to procure more models for medical training than sanctioned in an initial budget of 122.8 million yuan in December 2009.
A National Audit Office report released on Monday said a Red Cross Society of China unit in charge of donations of human stem cells had earmarked 224,800 yuan last year for publicity expenses related to an unauthorised project to develop a human stem cell database.
Wang said the violations were not a result of corruption and misappropriation of public funds for personal gain, but technical glitches or failures to comply with accounting rules.
Yesterday's briefing, aimed at defusing public concerns over the society's alleged links to actress Guo Meiling - known as Guo Meimei in cyberspace - resulted in widespread outrage after only six selected state media outlets were allowed to attend.
The society reiterated that it had nothing to do with Guo, who has been pursued by online vigilantes in the past week after bragging about her luxurious lifestyle as the general manager of 'the Red Cross Chamber of Commerce', which indignant internet users assumed was a unit of the Red Cross Society of China. The society said it had no such unit and that Guo was not related to its deputy president Guo Changjiang .