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Petty Accountant Embezzles Big Money

Bian Zhong, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) accountant accused of embezzling 222.6 million yuan (US$27 million), went to trial Monday at Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court.


The case involves the largest amount of money to be dealt with by the Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate in recent years. No judgment was reached on Monday.


The foundation is an organization directly affiliated to the State Council and manages the allocation of the National Natural Science Fund for projects across the country.


Bian, 41, an accountant with the NSFC’s public fund management department, has been taken to court on charges of misappropriating public funds. Forty-year-old Wu Feng, vice director of the same department, faces a charge of dereliction of duty.


According to Cheng Jin, the public prosecutor, Bian transferred money to several companies by forging banking documents seeming to pay bills on behalf of organizations that had applied for funds. Some 4.3 million yuan (US$510,000) remains missing, believed to have been embezzled by Bian.


Bian admitted to the charges in court yesterday. He said he had not spent much of the money since most of it remained in other people’s accounts.


He was arrested by police last February; Wu was taken into custody two months later. In 2002, Qin Dengcai, director of the NSFC’s financial department, was sentenced to six months imprisonment by Beijing Haidian District People's Court for dereliction of duties.


(China Daily October 19, 2004)

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