strong public support and backing from the State Council, the National Audit Office is now knocking on the China Banking Regulatory Commission's (CBRC) door. Coincidentally the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission are going through its books this year too.
The National Audit Office insists the investigations are routine, focusing on internal finances and spending. But some see more than coincidence at work because the two-year-old banking watchdog has been throwing its weight around, upsetting more than a few bankers.
Routine it may be, but given how much money is sloshing around the banks and the temptations created by an ongoing credit squeeze, one never knows what could turn up. In a report to the 13th session of the 10th National People's Congress Standing Committee, the auditor-general said RMB21bn (US$2.5bn) had been recovered and 700 people punished, since the National Audit Office blew the whistle on public-sector waste and corruption in July.
Xinhua reported 40 government departments had "rectified their mistakes" and 80% of RMB1.42bn in lost money had been recovered. Among those failing to make amends was the General Administration of Sports, which allegedly misused RMB131m in Olympic fund.
Meanwhile the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was busy congratulating itself on its own efforts to make officials whiter-than-white. A year-long campaign persuaded around 8,400 "hongding shangren," or businessmen with caps decorated by rubies, as the Qing Dynasty epithet described wealthy officials, to quit concurrent private-sector posts and focus on their government jobs. According to Xinhua, all but about 400 either resigned their private-sector management jobs or were removed.