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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 06:21 GMT 07:21 UK
Four executed in China for fraud
A bank worker counts Chinese yuan
Multi-million yuan frauds are rife, authorities warn
China has executed four people for bank fraud as part of its crackdown on white-collar crime ahead of a string of bank sell-offs.

Three of the men had been convicted of stealing 20m yuan ($2.4m) from the China Construction Bank in Henan, in central China.

The fourth had cheated the Bank of China, his employer, out of $10.3m, state media said.

Both banks are due for flotation as early as next year.


Like much of China's banking sector, the two have struggled under the weight of bad debts made to state-owned firms.

The government last year pumped $45bn into them to help recapitalise them ahead of the sell-off.

On Wednesday, China Construction Bank sold stakes totalling 3.5% to three state-owned companies for 8bn yuan.

But with the banking sector due to open to foreign competition under China's deal with the World Trade Organisation in 2007, widespread fraud has also been a concern.

In June Huang Yantian, the ex-president of an investment firm which collapsed owing $5bn in 1999, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for fraud.

Mr Huang had headed Gitic, the investment arm of Guangdong province.

State news agency Xinhua said that 7,264 cases of fraud were closed in 2003, with 7,586 people sentenced - more than half of them to either life imprisonment or execution.

Although China does not give details of its execution policies, estimates by human rights groups suggest 5-10,000 death sentences a year, many for non-violent crimes.

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