BEIJING (Reuters) - Charitable donations in China have plunged more than 80 percent because of public mistrust in the wake of recent allegations that some charities have misused money, media reported on Thursday.
Donations to charitable groups and foundations fell to 840 million yuan ($131.99 million) from June to August, from 6.26 billion the previous three months, the Times Weekly said, citing the Ministry of Civil Affairs' China Charity and Donation Information Centre.
One of the reasons for the drop in donations was "people have become suspicious...after Guo's scandal", the Beijing Times quoted Zhao Baige, executive vice president of the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), as saying.
Zhao was referring to Guo Meimei, 20, who acknowledged she had falsely described herself as the general manager at the Society while posting photos on her microblog showing her in a Maserati sports car and carrying several expensive handbags.
It soon became one of the most talked-about topics on China's Twitter-like Weibo in June. The RCSC denied any links with Guo.
And in September, the Southern Weekend, a Guangzhou-based newspaper, said the Henan branch of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, the third-biggest charity in the country, had lent millions of yuan to private businesses.
Peng Jianmei, director of the China Charity and Donation Information Centre, told Reuters that the 80 percent drop in donations is "not official". The official figures are not expected to be released until April or May. ($1 = 6.3643 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Sabrina Mao and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ken Wills and Jonathan Thatcher)