Beijing: Hit already by mushrooming corruption and rising alcoholism among its bureaucrats, China has now been stung by revelation that thousands of officials have fled overseas with a staggering USD 50 billion in their pockets, stolen from the exchequer.
The funds were siphoned off from the government expenditure as the country entered an economic boom over the past three decades.
Officials were found to have used services of criminal gangs in other countries to buy fancy real estates and keep number of mistresses in their new havens after bolting from China by faking identification, the China Daily reported on Monday.
The paper quoting officials of the country`s Supreme People`s Procuratorate said developed nations like US and Australia had become "new heaven for those in hiding".
As many as 4,000 officials were found to have disappeared overseas and an alarmed government has formed a multi-agency task force to stem the flow of corrupt officials stealing and escaping to foreign nations.
Overseas trips have been put under close scrutiny since Yang Xianghong, the former party chief of a district in China`s eastern Zhejiang province went on an official visit to France in 2008 and refused to return home.
His wife was arrested by police on suspicion of trying launder USD 2.9 million.
The new joint panel consist of officials from public security, justice and foreign affairs departments. The new official efforts come, as China has recently sought to negotiate extradition treaties with western countries to bring back and punish officials.