Chinese officials gamble away millions in state money

Jail terms and administrative punishments may be handed out to 53 senior officials from China who used public money to fund their gambling habits, said a government spokesperson.

In total $US 3.2 million of public money was stolen.

So far six top officials have been punished. Wu Xingkui of the Yunfu city administration has received the the heaviest sentence to date. He was sentenced to four years in jail, after being convicted of embezzling nearly $US 85,000, which he then used to bet on football matches and play mah-jong, as well as spending some on trips to Hong Kong.

Gambling is illegal in most of China, but remains extremely popular among the country’s high-ranking politicians. Chinese leaders have recently launched campaigns against thieving officials as part of an effort to curb widespread corruption.