Official embezzled 11.5 million yuan for stock investments A northeastern provincial official embezzled 11.5 million yuan in rural pension funds for stock investments in the mainland's latest case of social security funds being abused, according to media reports. The scam has been revealed as the Ministry of Labour and Social Security steps up efforts to rectify misappropriations exposed by a recent national funds audit, urging local governments to retrieve misused welfare funds 'immediately'. Between April and July 2003, 11.5 million yuan in pension funds for peasants in the Lianshan area of Huludao city , Liaoning province , was siphoned off to invest in stocks of an unspecified travel company in Guilin , according to the Liaoshen Evening News. According to the newspaper, the labour and social security bureau director, surnamed Fu, was found to be facilitating the deal as he asked subordinates to sign contracts with an investment firm to manage the pension fund. The fund was moved in three instalments - 1.5 million yuan, 2 million yuan and 8 million yuan - to the management company, which later reported that it made a loss of 6 million yuan in its travel stock investment, the paper said. Fu was sentenced to three years in jail by a local court, citing 'abuse of official position'. The case is the latest in a series of welfare funds abuses in recent months, which included the Shanghai pension fund scandal that toppled the city's party chief, Chen Liangyu , in September. The Labour and Social Security Ministry yesterday ordered local governments to make up the shortfalls in their social security funds after a national audit of welfare funds for all provinces, except Tibet, found 7.1 billion yuan was missing. The funds were said to be embezzled for 'overseas investment, commercial loans to companies, construction of government buildings and other purposes', according to Xinhua. 'The ministry takes major responsibility for the welfare funds loss,' Liu Yongfu , deputy minister, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. 'We're rectifying the problems immediately and in earnest.' He said inadequate awareness of the significance of social security funds had resulted in state policies not being strictly implemented at local levels. Misused funds must be retrieved from illegal investments immediately and if misappropriated funds could not be traced, local governments should compensate for the loss, Mr Liu said. All social security funds have to be kept in separate accounts and the local labour and social security departments are required to draw up plans by the end of this month to improve fund management. The ministry is also planning to launch an information-release system to make funds' management more transparent. The new system will require quarterly and annual publication of social security fund operations, Xinhua reported.