A national crackdown to cut vested interests in coal mines has forced 5,357 officials to declare their stakes in collieries - with investments totalling 755 million yuan. Vice-Minister of Supervision Chen Changzhi said yesterday 4,023 officials from government departments and 1,334 officials from state enterprises had declared interests in coal mines. Speaking to mainland journalists, Mr Chen said 709 million yuan, or 93.9 per cent of the total investment made by the officials, had been recovered from the operations. He did not say whether the funds were returned to the officials. He also did not explain how these cadres found the money to invest in coal mines. If divided evenly, the average investment would exceed 100,000 yuan. Mr Chen said joint ministerial teams inspected 14 provinces in the first half of the year, while teams were also sent to eight provinces in September. As a result of the inspections, the cases of 45 officials were transferred to prosecutors for indictment, 122 officials were penalised by their work units and 148 were disciplined by the party. Mines with official investors have also become a hotbed for graft. The ministry shed some light on how a junior official could amass hundreds of thousands of yuan to invest in a mine and reap more than a million yuan in profit. In one case, an assistant to a county chief in Sichuan embezzled 4.07 million yuan to invest in a coal mine and, during the inspections, still managed to spend a further 8.5 million yuan to buy more shares in his wife's name. Coal mine accidents killed 2,900 people on the mainland during the first eight months of the year, according to the State Administration of Work Safety. The death toll is down by 993, or 25.5 per cent, on the same period last year.