The State Council has approved the establishment of a joint committee of 18 ministries and commissions to crack down on illegal fund-raising reported to have involved almost 30 billion yuan in the first 11 months of last year. The China Banking Regulatory Commission yesterday said it would lead the joint committee, whose members include the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce, the People's Bank of China, and the securities and insurance watchdogs. The joint government effort to target illegal fund-raising activities came after a surge in the mainland stock market last year, which was the world's best-performing major market. The upbeat sentiment has eased over the week on concerns that more measures will be introduced to cool the market. As the country's growth continues to accelerate, many Chinese are getting rich without enough savvy to manage their wealth. A total of 16.2 trillion yuan of household savings are parked in a limited number of investment products in the underdeveloped capital market. Many Chinese are still putting all their money in deposit accounts, while many of those who hope to cash in on the bullish stock market fall prey to investment scams. The China Securities Regulatory Commission yesterday said the government received several thousand complaints last year from investors who were duped into buying non-existent initial public offering shares. The fake shares, issued by companies from northern and western provinces, were sold by brokers in coastal cities. The number of such cases last year at least doubled from 2005, the CSRC said. The securities regulator said it would form a task force with the CBRC, the central bank and the police to prosecute illegal brokers and scrutinise companies that sought to sell fake shares. The People's Daily said illegal fund-raising had been spreading in certain areas since 2005, citing an unnamed official at the Business Crime Detection Bureau, under the Ministry of Public Security. In the first 11 months of last year, 653 cases of bogus deposit schemes involving 26.3 billion yuan were uncovered, the newspaper said. An additional 841 cases of other types of fund-raising scams involving 1.8 billion yuan were also found. The CBRC said the joint committee would set up regulations and issue warnings when an illegal fund-raising activity was discovered. Relevant procedures to compensate investors and impose punishment on offenders would also be drafted. All crucial cases would be submitted for the State Council.