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Former bank officials stand trial over record heist
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The trial opened on Tuesday of four former bank officials charged in connection with China's largest ever bank theft involving 50.95 million yuan.

Zhang Xizhong, former deputy head of the Handan branch of the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), and three executives for cash management and accounting, are charged with "severe breach of duty" that caused "huge economic losses for the country".

The People's Court of Congtai District in Handan, Hebei Province, heard that the four failed to inspect the bank's vault and accounts in March and April when former vault managers Ren Xiaofeng and Ma Xiangjing stole the money and spent it on lottery tickets.

Zhang is alleged to have failed to fulfil his obligations as required by the bank's regulations to inspect the vault between Oct. 23, 2004, and April 17, 2007; An Changhai and Li Yanxiao, two executives for the bank's cash management section, allegedly failed to inspect the vault in March and April; and Cheng Hongying, a bank accounting executive, is charged with failing to verify a false deposit by Ren which was intended to conceal the theft of the cash.

Ren and Ma were given death penalties at the Handan Municipal Intermediate People's Court after the first-instance hearing in August, which was upheld by the Hebei Provincial Higher People's Court at the second-instance hearing in September.

The trial continues.

(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2007)

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