A senior official at a Red Cross office in Southwest China's Yunnan Province has gone on trial on charges of corruption, China News Service reported on Sunday, the latest in a string of scandals that has added fuel to the public's distrust of the organization.
The trial of Ruan Heng, former vice president of the Kunming Red Cross, opened Friday at a district court in Kunming. She was charged with corruption involving over 56,000 yuan ($8,668) from 2006 to 2007. Ruan is charged with taking advantage of her position to go on several shopping trips to a local four-star hotel, spending thousands of yuan on clothes, shoes, tobacco and alcohol. She asked her staff to apply for reimbursement of all spending, even for inviting her own friends to play tennis.
Ruan pleaded guilty at the trial, but claimed she had spent the money to better carry out the work of the Red Cross.
She said the Kunming Branch had two accounts, one of which had been set up to receive donations from the public, while the other was for financial allocations from the government where the money she spent came from.
Zhang Yun, the vice president of the Red Cross Kunming Branch, told the Global Times that non-standard management had led to Ruan's downfall.
"During the time Ruan was here, issues could be decided by several people…The lack of supervision was a major cause of corruption," she said.
After Ruan was exposed, the Kunming Branch strengthened supervision and improved administrative practices to avoid similar cases, she added.
The Red Cross Society of China came under fire for misusing donations after a 20-year-old woman calling herself "Guo Meimei" and claiming to be the general manager of "Red Cross Commerce" posted photos on her microblog showing off her lavish lifestyle.
The increasing attention the public has paid to the Guo Meimei and similar cases means they have realized how to strengthen their public power, Wang Zhenyao, director of the Philanthropy Research Institute with the Beijing Normal University and One Foundation, told the Global Times.
Li Yan contributed to this story