Red Cross asks government auditors to help
The Red Cross Society of China has invited government auditors to look into possible irregularities at Red Cross China Business System, a business arm operated in partnership with the China General Chamber of Commerce that has been implicated in murky business deals with private companies.
China Business News also reported yesterday that the Red Cross society, the largest charity body on the mainland, had agreed to form a joint task force with the chamber to probe Red Cross China Business System.
The Red Cross society has come under intense public scrutiny, centred on allegations that it lacks transparency and accountability, after a young woman who calls herself Guo Meimei posted photos of her designer handbags and luxury cars online and claimed to be the general manager of the 'Red Cross Chamber of Commerce'.
The Red Cross society has denied having any such subsidiary or anything to do with Guo. But online vigilantes, upset by a suggestion that someone working for a charity organisation could afford to live such a luxurious lifestyle, tracked down murky business deals between Red Cross China Business System and several private firms, including Zhonghong Boai Asset Management which marketed space on Red Cross ambulances to advertisers.
A Beijing-based consultancy, Wang Ding, was found to be involved in almost all Red Cross China Business System's projects, with Wang Ding deputy general manager Li Qingyi serving as deputy director of Red Cross China Business System's secretariat. In an interview last month, Red Cross Society of China executive president Wang Wei said he did not know Li or Wang Shumin, deputy president of Red Cross China Business System and former Wang Ding general manager.
The Red Cross society yesterday admitted the existence of business deals between Red Cross China Business System, Zhonghong Boai and Wang Ding, but said the public would have to wait until the audit report was released to find out if there had been any irregularities.
Wang Wei said on Wednesday that the public has a legitimate right to hold the Red Cross society to a higher code of conduct because of its role as a bridge between donors and recipients. 'In return, the Red Cross Society of China should introduce more transparency to gain public trust and support,' he said.
Professor Deng Guosheng, from Tsinghua University, said auditors could expose corruption and financial irregularities but they could not tell if donations were used effectively or efficiently. 'To win back public trust, they might think of inviting independent inspectors to look into their operations,' he said.