'Millions missing'

Officials called the scam a "serious blow to social stability". The pair were executed on Wednesday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xinhua said $39.5 million was still missing.

China executes more people than any other country, but last month, a senior official for the Supreme People's Court, which reviews every death sentence, said the punishment should be used more sparingly.

Though usually reserved for violent crimes, death sentences are also applied for nonviolent offences that involve large sums of money or are seen to threaten social order.