Party expels 29 for taking bribes, granting illegal financing and dereliction of duty More than 80 Guangdong party officials have been punished by central disciplinary and supervision authorities after problem loans amounting to 10 billion yuan were granted to a businessman, Xinhua reported yesterday. With Feng Mingchang, owner of a Huaguang plywood company who received the loans, 69 people have been transferred to judicial authorities for criminal investigations. Of those implicated, 29 officials have been expelled from the Communist Party and fired from their official positions for taking bribes, granting loans against regulations and dereliction of duty. Feng's case was uncovered in a National Audit Office investigation in August 2003, which identified problem loans valued at more than 1 billion yuan owed by his company. Including the officials, Xinhua says 233 people are involved in the case. Feng, a former fish merchant, is accused of bribing high-ranking city officials into accompanying him to apply for bank loans. Xinhua said he also forged accounting documents to make Huaguang appear to be a 'star' private company in Nanhai, Guangdong. This was despite the fact that his company has been unprofitable for many years since it was formed in 1990. Among his major fraudulent loans are 10.5 billion yuan in 1,125 loans from the Nanhai branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) between 1990 and August 2003. At the time of the investigation by the National Audit Office, the company was found to have outstanding debt of nearly 2.6 billion yuan, of which 1.91 billion yuan was owed to ICBC. An earlier investigation by Caijing magazine found that the forged mortgage documents submitted by Feng to the banks had borne genuine seals from the local land resources and housing authorities. Yesterday, Xinhua also alleged Feng bribed bank and government officials in paving the way for his crimes. It named the former head of the ICBC Nanhai branch, Lin Yuxing , who was responsible for granting Huaguang 1.54 billion yuan in 62 loan transactions, as well as two Nanhai district finance bureau chiefs, Sun Bokuan and He Weilin, for instructing a Hong Kong company owned by the bureau to issue letters of credit worth 1.15 billion yuan for Feng's firm. The land resources chief of Shatou county, Li Quanyong, had also issued 18 land certificates involving 2,163 hectares for Feng's company. The county housing chief, Yao Liyun, then exaggerated the building area based on the false land certificates and issued 402 certificates for a total floor space of 1.39 million square metres for Feng. The documents enabled Feng to obtain loans with little difficulty from the banks, the news agency said.