Guangzhou will restore about 500 million yuan diverted from its social security funds into risky investments more than 10 years ago, but the government will not say whether anyone will be held accountable for the loss. 'We will deal with this as directed by the National Audit Office. If the money cannot be recovered, the government will use its finances to top it up; at any rate, we will protect the interests of contributors,' Mayor Zhang Guangning told a meeting with Guangdong legislators on Monday. Mr Zhang's secretary, Zhao Fang, said he 'was not clear' if anyone would have to shoulder the blame as happened in Shanghai but a government adviser and a political scientist said that an investigation should be carried out. Unlike Shanghai's pension fund scandal, which saw its party boss and a string of officials lose their jobs, so far, only a former vice-director of Guangzhou's pension fund has been punished, getting 10 years in jail in 2003 for diverting 50 million yuan from the fund and accepting bribes. Wang Yukai , of the National School of Administration, said that Guangzhou had to investigate the case, which he regarded as similar to Shanghai's and that if the money could not be recovered, someone should be held responsible. He said it was not a simple matter of the government picking up the tab. 'You have to first investigate who was responsible. It's not normal to misappropriate public funds. We have to investigate if there is any criminal culpability,' he said. Using money from the reserves 'is the same as using taxpayers' money', he said. Guangdong Political People's Consultative Conference delegate Wang Zechu said that he believed an investigation was already going on. 'The funds were invested with government approval but it was a violation of regulations on social security funds which prohibit such investment,' he said, proposing they should be invested in treasury bonds that are low in risks or 'safe companies in the telecommunication and energy sectors'. The city set up a debt collection agency in 2000 which has recovered 326.3 million yuan of 1.02 billion yuan that was misappropriated for investment, mostly in property development. It was hopeful of recovering another 105 million yuan, leaving more than 500 million yuan, or 10 per cent of fund contributions in 2004, that cannot be recovered. Mr Zhang recommended exploring ways to protect and increase the value of pension funds, saying the current supervisory system allowed it. The bulk of social security funds, which stood at 30.8 billion yuan last year, could be used only to buy treasury bonds and or placed in banks giving an average return of not even 1.7 per cent last year. This was safe but a waste of resources, he said.