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December 16, 2009

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New penalties enacted to cover credit-card crime

CHINA issued judicial guidelines on credit card-related crime yesterday amid "increasingly rampant" fraud.

The legal document, announced by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate and effective from today, defines crimes involving credit card forging, stealing and selling card data as well as unacceptable overdrafts.

It said forging one credit card or above would be recognized as a crime.

Offenders who forge 25 cards or more face more than 10 years in jail or evenlife imprisonment, as well as fines of up to 500,000 yuan (US$73,200).

Card holders could be charged with overdraft offenses if they intentionally exceed maximum spending limits or delay payments to their accounts and refuse to clear the overdraft three months after the second notice.

Those who manage to repay the principal and overdraft fees before a court delivers a judgement may receive lighter penalties or even be exempted from punishment, according to the document.

Credit card-related crimes had been on the rise as services expanded rapidly in China, SPC Vice President Xiong Xuanguo said yesterday at a press conference.

China has the largest number of credit-card holders and has undergone the fastest growth in bank-card business in the world. By the end of November, 2.08 billion bank cards have been issued in China.

Credit card-related crimes were written into the Criminal Law in 2005. Xiong said it was necessary to further specify such crimes and conviction standards as new problems had emerged.

The People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, had a plan to improve regulations concerning card issuing, Li Dongrong, the bank's assistant governor, said at the press conference.


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