Thousands Of Chinese Officials Punished For Gambling

Central government report highlights problems across the nation

Thousands of Chinese ruling party and provincial government officials have been shamed and punished for gambling since mid-2013, according to a report in the Shanghai Daily newspaper this week.

A report published by the central government reveals that 7,162 officials were punished, based in more than 30 cities and provinces, with east China's Zhejiang and Guangdong in the south reporting the most cases – 1,575 in Zhejiang and 1,127 in Guangdong.

Punishments ranged from warnings to severe administrative penalties, in what the report describes as a crackdown on gambling that has become a major thrust of the government's anti-corruption campaign.

The reports details some cases, including those in which officials were taking bribes by being allowed to win at mahjong, a practice an official with the commission for discipline inspection in southwest China's Guizhou Province told the Beijing Youth Daily was common.

Winners can pocket more than 100,000 yuan (US$16,300) from just one session, he said.

One businessman quoted by the newspaper said some company owners would allow officials to win in the expectation that they would be afforded preferential treatment in future.

Some corrupt officials addicted to gambling would steal public funds to cover their gambling losses, the report claimed, using as an example the case of Cong Jun, deputy director of Liuzhou's social security management office in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, who was arrested over allegations he stole 3 million yuan from public funds to pay for bets on soccer.

In another case, Lu Shengle, finance office director in Guangxi's Liangjiang Town, was alleged to have embezzled 3.23 million yuan in public funds over the past four years for gambling.

In some cities, officials were caught gambling during working hours.

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