Push to expose 'naked officials'
- Source: Global Times
- [01:15 July 28 2010]
By Ji Beibei and Peng Pu
Zhou Jinhuo, the former head of Administration for Industry & Commerce in Fujian, left a letter on his desk for disciplinary inspection officials advising them to "avoid the trouble of finding me."
He was already overseas when the people on his trail learned of his actions.
Zhou is just the tip of the iceberg. Four years after he fled, many corrupt officials are still following in his footsteps.
Chinese netizens coined the term luoguan (meaning naked officials), which refers to officials such as Zhou, who escape trouble by moving their spouse and children, along with their assets, to a foreign country.
They plan ahead by depositing money in accounts under the name of their spouse or children. Even if they are apprehended, the cash transferred to overseas banks often remain the property of family members.
An increasing number of officials engaging in this scam has frustrated investigators and have challenged the level of tolerance for such behavior among the public.
Previous reports say more than 4,000 officials have fled to foreign countries with 100 million yuan in loot in the past three decades. But those figures have not been confirmed by any authoritative source.
In September 2009, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, for the first time, called for increased oversight of "naked officials," the Xinhua News Agency said.
President Hu Jintao stressed in January the need to create a new office to fight corruption.
Earlier this month, the central authority issued a regulation demanding that government officials follow new rules to make their assets more open to scrutiny. Officials at the level of deputy county chief and above should report their assets, marital status, whereabouts and employment of family members annually, according to the regulation.
A provisional regulation by the General Offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, which was released on Sunday, said that party and government officials whose spouse and children went overseas are subjected to stricter reviews when applying for private passports or visas to go abroad.
"Naked officials" should submit written accounts of all incomes and property owned by their spouse and children living overseas, and provide updates to all changes to their financial situation, the new rule said.
"Officials whose duties or services are related to the countries and regions their spouses and children are living in should voluntarily report it to their higher authorities. If conflicts of interests are involved, the officials must avoid holding related posts," it said.
In response to the central government, local governments including Guangdong, Shanxi and the Inner Mongolia have taken similar measures to fight corruption. For instance, the government of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province issued regulations in November saying "naked officials" should not become department chiefs or leading members of key departments.