Chinese officials face graft charges

China has punished more than 700 government officials after auditors uncovered widespread graft amounting to nearly $3.5 billion.

    Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has pledged to fight corruption

    The official Xinhua

    news agency said on Thursday that

     754 officials had been penalised or detained,

    citing a report released at a cabinet meeting

    chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.

    Corruption

     is regularly singled out by the Chinese as one of the

    most urgent problems facing the country.

    By October, China's treasury had recovered 20.87 billion

    yuan ($2.52 billion) out of the 28.6 billion yuan that had been

    found to have been "illegally kept" by government departments,

    Xinhua said without giving details.

    China's leaders admit corruption is rife in the country, especially

    in the judicial and law enforcement systems.

    According to Transparency International (TI), an anti-graft organisation, crimes

    by judges and court officals include abuse of power in lawsuit proceedings, intentional errors of judgement and taking bribes.

    China's rapid economic transition has also resulted in huge

    construction investment, breeding widespread corruption in the awarding of public contracts, says TI.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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