About 6.7 billion yuan $1 billion was “misappropriated” during the construction of a long-distance electricity grid in China last year, the country’s top auditing office said this week.
The government report—which details the use of fake invoices and receipts, illegal bidding, and cost overestimates—is a rare swipe at two of the country’s largest state-owned firms, and a sign that China’s corruption crackdown may be targeting a new sector.
For the past decade, China has been building a high-voltage electricity grid that by 2020 will be able to transmit the power produced by the equivalent of 60 Hoover Dams across the mainland. The grid, known as the “West-East Electricity Transfer Project,” is on par with China’s other expensive, nature-shifting infrastructure projects like the Three Gorges Dam and the South-North-Water Diversion. The goal of the new grid is to boost development in China’s poorer interior regions by producing and shipping electricity from west to east, which should also reduce the smog produced by power plants near crowded eastern provinces.+