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Illegal Loans Totaling Billions of Yuan
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A recent investigation by the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has stunned the financial world as it revealed that major Chinese banks have been providing real estate developers with billions in illegal loans.


According to a CBRC document, banks had issued several billion yuan in bogus mortgages by the end of June 2006 whilst being fully aware that the borrowers had lied about salient details, such as which homes they were buying and the size of registered capital. Cases were also found where more than one mortgage was issued for a single home.


The regulator conducted nationwide checks on loans both for real estate development projects and for individual home buyers, which were extended by some branches of major commercial banks.


It found that one unnamed state-owned commercial bank had issued 4,718 bogus mortgage loans, for a total of 1.31 billion yuan (US$169 million), forming a staggering 6 percent of all home buyer loans that were checked.


Another state-owned commercial bank granted 3,716 loans, valued at 734 million yuan (US$94.7 million), for individual homebuyers, 3.23 percent of the total credits investigated.


Sources with the CBRC revealed the true scale of the scandal, saying that close to 30 percent of all loans checked were being considered as suspect.


An immediate order was placed for all state-owned and joint-stock banks to intensify their scrutiny of real estate projects and clamp down on illegal borrowing.


Several bogus mortgage cases have been exposed in China over the past few years, including a 1-billion yuan (US$129 million) case at the China Construction Bank in Guangzhou and a 645-million yuan (US$83.2 million) case at the Bank of China in Beijing. But given CBRC's recent findings, these were only the tip of the iceberg.


The document also banned any credit being given to real estate developers with inadequate capital and outright forbad any loans to be granted for property development purposes in the name of circulating funds.


(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2007)

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