Shanghai (AsiaNews/Agencies) The central leadership of China's Communist party has forced the party secretary of Shanghai, Chen Liangyu, to step down over a scandal involving alleged misuse of city pension funds.
Xinhua News Agency said in a bare one-line announcement: "Shanghai Party chief sacked for pension scandal."
Last month the central authorities launched a top-level investigation into Communist leaders' involvement in the "disappearance" of more than 10 billion yuan [around one billion euros] of a city pension fund.
According to the evidence, Chan illegally invested nearly one-third of the whole sum for personal use. The inquiry revealed that the city's labour chief, a district governor and several prominent businessmen were also involved.
Shanghai is the economic and financial hub China, but it also leads the way in corruption cases among Communist leaders.
Corruption represented between 3.0 and 5.0 per cent of China's GDP, or between 409 and 683 billion yuan in 2004, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in a report last year.
"There were big increases in corruption from 1987-1992 which was linked to the transition process of the economy," Janos Bertok, co-author of the report, said. "For the rest of the 1990s the level of corruption did not let up. . . . As China's economy grows the opportunities for corruption also grow."
In the first half of 2003 alone more than 8,300 officials fled the country and another 6,500 disappeared within China to escape prosecution for corruption and embezzlement.
"Roughly two-thirds of the fugitives were senior executives of state-owned enterprises [and] between US$ 8.75 billion and US$ 50 billion were supposedly brought out of the country in recent years," the report said.
According to official source, the number is growing up.