China plans to intensify financial auditing of domestic foundations after a series of embezzlement scandals hit charity organizations, impacting upon donations.
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Civil Affairs are now soliciting public opinions on new rules that will require domestic foundations to hire accounting firms to audit their financial statements and publish reports, according to a joint statement issued by the two ministries on Tuesday.
Under the new rules, domestic foundations' annual financial reports, and details of financial situations during management reshuffles must be subject to accounting firms' auditing. The requirements will also apply to certain donation programs, such as those accounting for more than 10 percent of the foundation's received annual donations or involving natural disaster relief.
Previously, auditing was required only for foundations' annual financial reports.
The new rules, expected to come into effect on Jan. 1 of next year, also lay down specific qualifications for accounting firms that can audit foundations.
Earlier this year, a young woman calling herself "Guo Meimei" claimed online that she was the general manager of "Red Cross Commerce" -- a group the Red Cross Society of China said does not exist -- and posted pictures on her microblog detailing her lavish lifestyle, provoking the ire of netizens who speculated that she might have funded her purchases by embezzling money from the Red Cross.
In September, media outlets reported the Soong Ching Ling Foundation in central Henan province had embezzled charitable donations and lent large amounts of money to real-estate companies for the construction of luxury apartments.
However, there is still no official confirmation on either of these scandals.
During the January to October period of this year, the country's civil-affairs authorities received a total of 4.36 billion yuan (685.53 million U.S. dollars) in public donations, less than one third of that for the same period of 2010, according to statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
No statistics on donations collected by domestic foundations are available, however.