Red Cross officer dies amid quake graft claims

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2011, 12:00am


The sudden death of a senior Qinghai Red Cross official reportedly under investigation for alleged financial irregularities has added to concerns about the Red Cross as a credible charitable organisation on the mainland.

Quoting an unidentified source within the Red Cross Society of China's network, the Oriental Morning Post reported yesterday that the deputy director of the Qinghai Department of Civil Affairs Sun Lin had replaced Nima.

Nima, a Tibetan who used one name, was the executive deputy president of the Red Cross Society of Qinghai.

According to the newspaper report, a staff member from the provincial Red Cross' general office said they received the order for Sun's appointment, but the person refused to confirm whether Nima was being investigated for misappropriation of donations following the devastating 7.1-magnitude earthquake in April last year.

The staff member also would not give details about Nima's death or when it occurred.

Calls by the South China Morning Post to that office and that of its parent organisation, the Red Cross Society of China, went unanswered yesterday, but Nima was still listed as the executive president of the provincial branch on the organisation's official website.

News of Nima's death under mysterious circumstances came just a day after the provincial branch convened an informal media briefing defending its image, which has been tainted by negative publicity.

The briefing also coincided with the national Red Cross' efforts to distance itself from Guo Meiling, an actress known online as Guo Meimei, who claimed earlier this year to be the general manager of the 'Red Cross Chamber of Commerce', which does not exist.

In images online, Guo then went on to show off her collection of Hermes handbags, a Maserati convertible she claimed to drive and the luxury villa in which she claimed to live, triggering an online outcry directed at the national Red Cross.

After the organisation said it had informed police that the actress was 'disrupting the public', Guo apologised for faking her identity as the general manager of a purported Red Cross subsidiary.

But pressure on the national Red Cross remains, as online vigilantes try to determine its ties with several companies and whether deals between the charity and such companies breached its charter.