Five suspected over data leaks

Updated: 2011-06-21 16:09

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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BEIJING - A Beijing procurator confirmed on Monday that five people are under judicial investigation for leaking key economic data before its official release.

Zhang Huawei, a director from the Beijing People's Procuratorate, told media that the five people, including a staff member responsible for secretarial work at the National Bureau of Statistics' (NBS) administrative office, are under investigation.

Previously some media reported that several officials with the central bank and the NBS were taken for investigation for suspected data leaking after accurate predictions of macroeconomic data released by economists and financial institutions had raised concerns.

Recently, several financial institutions and media organizations released economic estimates that exactly or closely matched official figures.

Notably, over the past two years Reuters news agency released seven correct monthly consumer price index (CPI) estimates before the data was officially released.

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On June 8, Reuters predicted that China's consumer price index for May would be up 5.4 percent on the same period last year. The official figure, released on June 14, was 5.5 percent.

According to a report by the First Financial Daily, although Reuters responded that they predicted the May index based on their own research, they did mention inside sources when giving previous accurate predictions.

Other organizations, including Bloomberg News, and several market analysts correctly predicted the May CPI.

Key government economic data, including the consumer price index and gross domestic product (GDP), are highly market-sensitive and viewed as State secrets before the information is officially announced.

Sheng Laiyun, spokesman for NBS, also condemned on June 14 the leaks of official economic data, saying that investigators had launched a probe into the matter and a bureau employee suspected of leaking figures was being questioned.

Zhang said on Monday that the five people under investigation worked in five different departments, including the NBS employee.

Also on Monday, the municipal prosecution authority launched its 13th week of promotional activity calling on the public to report occupational crimes.

Gao Baojing, deputy chief procurator, revealed at the news conference that the prosecutors had investigated 535 suspects in 450 cases of graft and bribery from January 2010 to April 2011, the most since 2003.

During the same period, prosecution offices around Beijing accepted 288 clues and opened 79 cases of dereliction of duty.

Gao further encouraged citizens to report job-related offenses through the procuratorate's website.

The online report system, which has been operating since March 2008, aims to provide residents with a more convenient way to report corruption, bribery and malpractice, he said.

But the online reporting system still faces some problems and its effectiveness is still limited, prosecutors said.

Most residents do not use their real names nor give specific clues when reporting crimes on the website, and this makes further investigation difficult, said Luo Shouliang, director of the accusation and appeal department of the procuratorate.

"Currently, most people prefer to be anonymous rather than leave their names on our website, making it difficult to contact them in time," Luo said.

"Sometimes we have been very interested in cases that residents have reported online, but if we wanted more specific information they have refused to give their phone numbers or have even disappeared," he said.

China Daily


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