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Quake food swindle: Officials stood down
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A senior provincial food official has been suspended from duties and is being investigated by the judiciary over allegedly allowing the provision of under-weighted bags of food for victims of the May 12 earthquake.

Wang Anwu, the bureau chief of Xixiang County's grain department in the quake-hit Shaanxi Province, was reportedly responsible for the grain shortages in the food-supply chain, the Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

In the same case, Liu Shaoming, the head of a local food-processing company, has been detained for allegedly adding adulterants and under-weighting grain bags bound for the quake victims.

Liu's company, which was designated by the grain department, reportedly filled 10-kilogram bags with only 8.5 to 9.5 kilograms of food, which contained adulterants.

Zhang Miyou, a senior official of the grain department, was also suspended from the post for alleged involvement, Xinhua said.

More than 20,000 people in the county were left destitute by the May 12 earthquake.

The county's financial department spent 1.75 million yuan (US$254,400) purchasing 336,300 kilograms of grain and other relief goods on May 15 to supply local victims. The Department of Civil Affairs ordered that each victim be supplied with half a kilogram of grain a day for a month.

A food shortfall was discovered in a local town on May 23, which led to a joint investigation by financial and civil-affairs authorities.

The county's Party committee received reports from several other towns claiming food shortages.

The disciplinary department then discovered 10 among the county's 23 towns had been short-changed during delivery of the first batch of relief goods. A total of 13,803.5 kilograms of food, worth about 45,550 yuan, was missing.

Meanwhile, an official in central Henan Province has been arrested for allegedly misappropriating more than 260,000 yuan in relief funds and embezzling another 7,900 yuan. His sister and brother have also been arrested.

Yu Yuewen, once chairman of the business federation of Anyang County, spent 41,500 yuan booking clothes from his sister's store as relief goods and authorized his brother to buy 123,000 yuan worth of bottled water, instant noodles and sausages for disaster victims, according to the Prosecutorial Daily.

All the money was reportedly from local donations for victims of the earthquake.

(Shanghai Daily June 23, 2008)

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